There’s already been a movement to have Draymond Green‘s number retired at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. That’s how much he meant to the Michigan State Spartans and Big Ten college basketball. He’s also an NBA draft prospect, potentially in the first round. The Sports Bank’s Ngozi Ekeledo had a very detailed exclusive with Green, discussing his past, present and future.
Ngozi: Tom Izzo said that he thinks Derrick Nix and Keith Appling are in the running to be captains for next year’s squad, but it’s up for grabs. Who do you think will step up and lead the squad next year? What advice would you give to some of these more experienced upperclassmen?
DRAYMOND: I think Nix could be the leader even though he made a mistake. At the end of the day, everyone’s human and no one’s perfect and walks a perfect life. I think Derrick will still be a leader on that team. He made one mistake and he’s not the first guy to make a mistake. Superstars make mistakes; everyone makes mistakes, so I think he still will have a huge leadership role. I think with him, they always say ‘make the mistake once, but don’t make it twice,’ and I think he’ll be fine with that.
NGOZI: What do you think about the new guys coming in? MSU will have McDonald’s All-American Gary Harris & Michigan Mr. Basketball Matt Costello among others. How will these guys fit in? What additions will they bring to the team?
DRAYMOND: I think they’ll fit in very well. Gary is very confident, and one thing I’ve learned from watching him is he’s a very defensive player. Anytime you can play defense, you can always play at Michigan State and on the offensive end as well, so I think he’ll fit in very well. Matt Costello—he’s tough and works. Then you have Kenny Kaminski who can shoot the ball in the four position so you can kind of use him as a pick and pop guy which I did some of in my role at the four, so I think that’ll work out as well. Then Valentine can do just about anything, and he’s very talented. He’s one of the best passers I’ve ever seen, and he can play three different positions, so I think we have a great recruiting class coming in. With the guys we have now, we have some veterans to lead these [newer] guys in the right direction.
NGOZI: Tom Izzo called you an extension of himself and often praised you on your leadership abilities. What was your relationship like with Coach Izzo throughout your time at Michigan State and especially during your senior year?
DRAYMOND: My relationship has constantly gotten better and better, and we’ve grown closer and closer together each and every year. I think me and Coach Izzo have a father-son type relationship, and I think that’s one of the best things about it. Coach Izzo looks to build a relationship with you and cares more about the relationship off the court than he does on the court, and to have a coach like that you have to relish it because it doesn’t happen everywhere. Everyone’s not blessed with an opportunity to have a coach like that, and you have to take advantage of it.
NGOZI: What will you miss most about playing at the Breslin Center and Big Ten?
DRAYMOND: Just the fans. The fans at Michigan State are great and to move on from this is bittersweet. I know I’m going to miss this and I’m blessed for what God gave me in life, and I definitely had a great time at Michigan State, but you only get four, possibly five years, and it’s time to move on. I think I did all I could have done here, and I’ve enjoyed my time, but one thing about Michigan State is once you’re a Spartan,you’re always a Spartan.
NGOZI: The Big Ten was one of the best conferences this year and was very deep. Do you think the Big Ten will be as deep as it was this year next season? How do you think the Spartans will fare next season?
DRAYMOND: I think the Spartans will do very well. I think the Big Ten will be tough with different teams bringing in top recruiting classes. Michigan is bringing in a very good class, and Tim Hardaway is coming back so they’ll be very tough, but again, we’re Michigan State and we’re gonna grind regardless. I know they’ll be fine, and they’ll find a way to get it done. We lost a big time player last year, and we found a way to get it done [this season].
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