|credit: USA Basketball|
by Leader Johnson,
Being special is not about words, it’s about actions.
On February 9th, 2002 a star was born in Merced, California. He was born to be a ball player. He was born with a will to work hard and to always get better. His step-father said that Jalen never had to be forced to work hard, he wanted to work hard. His mother, Bree Punganan, played basketball, ran track, competed in cross country and played a little bit of soccer. His Aunt Kristie grew up playing basketball, volleyball, softball and ran track as well. His dad played football and basketball and his step dad, Marcus Green, has prepared Jalen for the hardest obstacle, life itself.
Marcus told me that Jalen always wants to get better, wants to train, and loves to train. Green is always in the gym trying to unlock the code to greatness. I spoke to both his mother and stepfather who were traveling with Jalen to watch him play. His mother told me that ever since he was a young child he had the ball in his hands.
Now Jalen Green is a 6’6” 170 pound wing who is an elite scorer on all 3 levels. The Sophomore from San Joaquin Memorial high school in Fresno, CA is the no.1 ranked player in the class of 2020 by many scouts and no.2 by anyone else. He has won numerous MVP awards and everywhere he goes he shows up and shows out.
He is the type of talent you can give the ball to in the clutch and he isn’t afraid to take the game over or take that last shot. He has the style and presence to be the face of not only an NBA franchise but the face of basketball. He is the one. He is humble but hungry and he displays it with his game play. His actions speak louder than words.
|credit: Fresno Bee|
Green just had his 16th birthday and then had a monster game, displaying exciting moves on both sides of the court while making NBA all-star moves look easy. His all-around game and defense is improving and the nation is taking more notice by the second. When I first saw his tape I instantly saw Kobe Bryant. He wasn’t even rated at the time and Villanova had just offered him. When I saw him in AAU play my jaw dropped. This kid could really fly as if he had wings. In transition he was quick, powerful, and explosive, able to dominate any defender one on one.
In his sophomore season for San Joaquin Memorial he averaged 28.3 points 8.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 52% from the field 35% from 3 and 79% from the line. In 2017 he won a gold medal with the U16 USA national team as they rolled to a 5-0 record.
Green is on a fast track to NBA stardom. By the 2021 draft I see Jalen as the no.1 player taken, a certain one and done (or a top pick in 2020 if the one and done rule is abolished).
With all this success comes a lot of pressure and expectations but Green has a great family support group and his head remains focused and in the right place. And meanwhile he continues to work. Jalen has always been able to score when he wants and how he wants. Now his game is evolving and he’s become a better passer and is working hard as a defender.
When you see the curly haired kid who wears short shorts step onto the court checkout the look on his face, whether it’s a smile or a straight face he knows he owns it. And the future is his for the taking.