For Danny Green, the last four years of his life have been the stereotypical fairy tale of a young pro athlete.
He finished a stellar career at the University of North Carolina having played more games there than anyone, and is the only Tar Heel and ACC player with over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals.
He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round (46th overall) in last year’s NBA draft and gets to play alongside and learn from LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
“All these guys are great to be around,” said Green, who grew up in North Babylon and graduated from St. Mary’s in Manhasset. “Those are two big dominant forces playing in the NBA. They’re stars and I’m a learning a lot from them.”
Green, who started mastering the game at an early age and played his freshman season at North Babylon, skyrocketed as a major recruit while playing for Tim Cluess at St. Mary’s.
He was named All-Long Island, All-State and All-American and was recruited by just about every major basketball college in the country. At 6-foot-6, with speed, agility and a great head on his shoulders, he was a hot commodity.
“Everything I did was a major part of my development,” he said. “Coach Cluess did a great job of pushing me. He taught us the difference between right and wrong. He strived for perfection.”
Cluess, who was 262-87 in his 14 seasons at St. Mary’s, has since moved on to coach at Suffolk County Community College – Brentwood and C.W. Post, and was complimentary to Green’s college coach, Roy Williams – also a perfectionist.
At Carolina, Green helped the Heels win a national title in 2009. He was a major reason why they were so dominant. It was equally as rewarding for him to have spent four years with Williams and the program.
“I couldn’t ask for a better college career, especially the way it ended,” said Green, who was notable for his dance moves to “Jump Around” on the court before games. “A lot of things we do [in Cleveland] we did at Carolina. It’s helped me adjust with [everything].”
He didn’t have any typical “welcome to the NBA moments” thanks to an aggressive training camp. He also hasn’t had to deal with too much rookie hazing, just grabbing the occasional bag or running the basic errand.
“Nothing too serious,” he said.
Though he hasn’t been home on Long Island much in the last four years, he still misses his native roots. Green said he isn’t sure about his summer plans, but isn’t ruling out staying on the island during the off-season.
Home or not, Green is representing the Island well.