Mike Green, The Albany Herald 2014 Player of the Year, will sign with Albany State on Thursday after a senior season when he led the Patriots to the Class AAAA state semifinals. (Herald file photo)
ALBANY — Mike Green will never forget the first time he stepped on the basketball court as a freshman at Westover.
“I got in the game, and as soon as I touched the ball I stepped on it, tripped and fell,” he said. “You can ask anybody who was on that team with me. I actually stepped on the ball.”
It was the first step of what turned into a standout career for The Herald’s 2014 Willie Boston Player of the Year, who told The Herald on Tuesday that he will be signing with Albany State this week. He will become the first Albany product to sign a basketball scholarship out of high school with ASU in more than a decade and instantly brings a ball-handler and floor leader to the Rams.
“This is a great signing for us,” Albany State coach Chris Cameron said. “He fits the mold of the type of student-athletes we try to recruit. He has a great personality, is a humble kid, a hard-working kid, a talented kid and is very athletic. It fits in with what we have been trying to accomplish at Albany State.”
He will officially sign his National Letter of Intent Thursday morning at Westover High School, where he starred as a three-sport athlete. He led the Patriots to a Final 4 appearance in basketball last season and was the clear choice for the Player of the Year award. Had there been a Most Improved award, he likely would have been a front-runner for that, too.
His improvement since his freshman year was constant, and Cameron said he’s excited to bring such a developed player into his program.
Cameron actively recruited three point guards this off season but said Green was his No. 1 prospect all along.
“I told Mike and his parents that we had two other guys we were recruiting who were actually junior college transfers and had more experience,” Cameron said. “But I told them I would wait on Mike before making a move on the other guys. I wanted to show them how serious we were about him.”
Green had actually decided after an informal workout with the Rams back in the spring that he would sign with Albany State, but he had to wait months for his test scores to clear.
Once they did, he swung by the ASU campus to tell Cameron.
“When he came by the school, a big smile came to my face,” Cameron said. “For a player of his ability and statute to come play for us, it’s a great pick-up for us.”
Green, who averaged 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a senior at Westover, said he instantly connected with many of the ASU players during his visit.
“They welcomed me and treated me like I was part of the family already,” Green said. “The first time I worked out I saw how they welcomed me, and I made my decision then. … And I like the style they play. I played in (last weekend’s) Battle of the South tournament at Albany State and got a taste of how they play.”
Green will also play baseball for the Rams — an opportunity that he said “put Albany State at the top of my list more than anything else.” The middle infielder had a .304 batting average with nine RBIs and 13 runs this spring for the Patriots.
It’s just the latest chapter of the rags-to-riches story for Green, who saw limited playing time as a junior and didn’t become an every-game starter at Westover until his senior year.
“They told me my junior year that I would be able to play soon but that I just had to keep working,” he said. “I always kept that in the back of my mind. And I kept working and kept working.”
Green emerged as Westover’s leader as a senior and helped the Patriots go on a remarkable 10-game winning streak and a deep run in the Class AAAA playoffs, which was cut short in the state semifinals on a buzzer-beater loss to Columbia.
Green still shakes his head at the remarkable strides he made in the past four years.
“It’s amazing how God works,” he said. “He had a plan for me the whole time. I just had to go out and put the hard work in to fulfill it.”