What if Devonte Green is like one of those guys?
OG Anunoby. Will Sheehey. Victor Oladipo — just a few of the recent Hoosiers who defied the recruiting rankings that undervalued them as high school prospects and proceeded to flourish in Bloomington.
Green’s game-high 17 points in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Hope College shouldn’t be over-valued. But it shouldn’t be brushed aside, either.
“I definitely felt like I belonged,” Green said.
He looked like it, too.
Green surfaced on the fast break. He hit both 3-point shots he attempted. He flashed an aggressive streak and complemented it with a degree of flair, doing so without committing a single turnover during his 13 minutes on the floor.
Defensively, he showed a penchant for being a tough-minded player. Often, learning how to play adequate defense at the Division I level requires patience from most freshmen, especially young guards.
Although it’s only one exhibition against a Division III opponent, Green lived up to his billing as an assertive two-way player.
“He’ll continue to get better, too,” Tom Crean said. “He’s learning the nuances of it. And really working a lot with his footwork. He’s so quick and sometimes he’s too quick with the ball … where he doesn’t get his feet down the way they have to be.
“But the reasons we offered him when we did is because not only of his talent. You could see his talent before we offered. It was his precision. It was his execution.”
When the IU coach first watched Green play, he wanted to like him. Crean did like him, but wanted to see more. After following Green’s progress on the travel ball circuit and as a high school player at Long Island Lutheran, Crean extended a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-3 New York product last December.
Less than a month later, Green was a committed Hoosier.
In a 2016 class that included four-star signees De’Ron Davis and Curtis Jones, Green was viewed — at least by the recruiting gurus — as a three-star prospect.
247 Sports, for instance, tabbed him as the No. 197-ranked recruit in the nation. Consider, the same scouting service ranked Anunoby at No. 280 nationally. Sheehey was No. 144 and Oladipo was No. 137.
“I just remember him coming out and starting from the summer competing, and he’s just aggressive offensively and defensively,” James Blackmon Jr. said. “So that opens up things for him and everyone else.”
During the coming weeks, as Indiana seeks to establish roles and rotations through the non-conference season, there will be opportunities for guards like Green and Jones to carve a niche in the IU backcourt.
Green seems particularly suited to see time simply because of what he projects to give the Hoosiers on both ends of the court.
“Devonte and Curtis can be very interchangeable for us and we’d like to get it to the point where they understand exactly how to make everybody else better like our team is learning how to make them better,” Crean said.
Especially in the case of Green, so far, so good.
It’s not often that a freshman comes in so confident and so aggressive to produce on offense and defense, both.
“But when you’re ready to be out there and you’re preapred and you put in a lot of time,” Blackmon said. “It’s easy.”