Jalen Green's defensive efforts resulted in him finishing the season in fifth place on the Vikings for both blocks and steals. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin
By Alex Barnes
One campus tour in the summer of 2018 was all it took for freshman guard Jalen Green to know that Western was the perfect place to grow on the basketball court and in the classroom.
“I came up here and [the coaches] let me play with the team a little bit, they showed me the campus and some of the classrooms. After we went out to eat I told my dad ‘this is where I want to go,’” Green said. “It was like ‘I have to go here. This is a good option for me.’”
Green grew up in Renton, Washington with his mother, father, two sisters and older brother. Like many younger siblings, he got into basketball after watching his older brother, University of Washington forward Dominic Green, play.
“When he was in eighth grade I used to go to his games ... and it seemed like so much fun that I had to play,” Green said.
Although he enjoyed playing basketball from the start, Green said it wasn’t something he immediately knew he would end up pursuing. In fact, it was a full year before he, with the help of his dad, started taking the game more seriously.
“For about the first year I was kind of [apprehensive] until my dad started to help me work out and I got better at it,” Green said. “I realized that it was a lot of fun and that I didn’t want to stop playing.”
Green graduated from Lindbergh High School as a scoring machine, finishing his career with 1,079 points over 56 games. In his senior season he averaged a massive 26.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 4.4 blocks per game
Green said he didn’t model his game after anybody in particular, but his favorite player growing up was Kobe Bryant, which could explain his love for the offensive side of the ball.
“Offense is something that’s just more fun to me than defense. While I do enjoy playing defense and being able to stop the person in front of me from scoring, being able to put the ball in the hoop in ways that other people can’t is always fun,” Green said.
According to Assistant Coach David Dunham, Green’s high school play was a key factor in the decision that the coaching staff made to bring him to Western.
“He came up for a visit and really played well. He had a great high school career … his stats were really good,” Dunham said. “He shoots well, can defend well and can handle [the ball] well, and all of those factors played into us thinking he would be a great fit here.”
Upon his arrival at Western, Green found the jump from high school to college to be somewhat overwhelming. He said that finding the balance between more challenging school work and basketball was something that took a while to figure out.
“The transition hit me at first, I’m not going to lie to you, and I’m still getting used to it now. My first two quarters I struggled with my school work a lot because I was trying to balance it in ways that I wasn’t used to,” Green said.
However, Green said that roommates D’Angelo Minnis and Luke Lovelady, who are also members of the men’s basketball team, were vital in helping him settle in, both on and off of the court.
“Luke was a big help to me in getting used to the workload and D’Angelo would come and work out with me at first so I wouldn’t have to do it alone,” Green said. “With the help of my coaches and teammates, I feel like it’s getting a lot easier and I’m making better use of the time that I have.”
Minnis, who is also a freshman, believes that having someone else around who was going through the same new challenges that Western presented was extremely helpful.
“We went through everything at the beginning together because we were both new up here. Being able to go through that together and have Luke there to help us through it made the process a lot easier for both of us,” Minnis said.
While he was learning how to cope with the challenges of becoming a collegiate athlete, early-season injuries forced a lineup change for the team that saw Green gain consistent playing time, a feat that is difficult for many college freshmen to accomplish.
“The adjustment from high school to college is a huge one and a lot of times players don’t realize that until they get here and see that the players are bigger, stronger and jump just as high,” Dunham said. “We just felt like what he was able to bring [to the team] in the absence of the players we lost would help us win games.”
Dunham also believes that Green’s outgoing and approachable personality was a big factor in his ability to settle in quickly with his new teammates.
“Once he gets to know you he’s very outgoing. He’s a very nice young man who expects excellence from himself … you want someone who expects that,” Dunham said. “The fact that he was able to come in and be a part of the guys who were already here, especially as a freshman, was a good thing.”
Minnis agreed with Dunham’s assessment and claimed that he knew instantly that Green was someone he was going to get along with.
“He was super friendly, really funny and he also loved basketball so we got along quickly. From a roommate perspective he’s really funny and brings a lot of positive energy to the atmosphere,” Minnis said.
Aside from basketball Green said his passions include reading fiction books, especially ones involving Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology, and playing video games both with the team or by himself.
“I’ll play any video game. I’ll be bored one night and just download anything I see,” Green said. “Usually we bring Xboxes [on road trips], so there will be eight of us sitting in a room playing NBA 2K and messing around.”
In the next 10 years, the top three goals that Green has are to be paid to play basketball professionally, graduate with a degree and get his foot into the door of his post-playing career.
As of now Green has not yet declared a major but he is looking to go into broadcast communications with the ultimate goal of achieving a career in sports broadcasting should playing basketball not pan out.
“Being able to be around sports even if I can’t play them would be a beautiful thing,” Green said.
For now, Green is just excited to be a Viking.
“I look forward to my future and I hope you guys are watching,” he said. “What’s the point of being quiet?”