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: The team’s games with Ohio State this year were tremendous—some of the best games this season in college basketball. Would you say the Buckeyes are a bigger rival than in-state foe University of Michigan?
DRAYMOND: Yes. I’m just honest. I know Michigan has a lot coming back, and their our rivals, but we just speak the truth. You only have to hate on someone or what someone’s doing when you feel threatened by them, and of course we don’t feel threatened by anyone.
NGOZI: Was there a specific Big Ten team that you looked forward to playing? Is there a place you liked to play in other than the Breslin Center?
NGOZI: Best nicknames you’ve received from Spartan fans or even fans on the road?
DRAYMOND: I don’t really pay the fans on the road any attention. I laugh at them, and I’d talk to them, but they didn’t really do much name calling. They’d call me ‘fat boy’ or whatever, but there wasn’t really too much name calling towards me. I just laugh at them, and then I try to go out there and kill their team. You try not to pay too much attention to them and focus on your task and get it done.
NGOZI: For those of us who don’t know, what’s it like to play for Tom Izzo? What are some of his mannerisms?
DRAYMOND: It’s great to play for Coach Izzo. He’s going to challenge you, and he’s going to get the best out of you, and that’s what you ask for out of a coach. You want your coach to get the best out of you and bring the best out of you so everybody can reach the potential that they really have. That’s what Coach Izzo does every single day.
NGOZI: Obviously, looking forward, the NBA seems to be the next step for you. How are you preparing for the draft?
DRAYMOND: Right now I’m just working out at school because I want to finish my degree. I don’t want to blow four years of work by trying to leave three weeks early. I’m just working out at school—lifting and working out—and just doing that for the next two and a half weeks, then I’ll be heading to Chicago to work out and get ready for pre-draft camps.
NGOZI: Do you know the next moves for your former teammates Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood?
DRAYMOND: I know both of them will be pursuing professional careers, and I think they’ll both do very good as well. I think both of them are capable of getting stuff done.
NGOZI: Have there been any tweaks or adjustments that you’re making now in preparation for the draft?
DRAYMOND: I’m trying to work on everything. I’m not the type of guy who’s going to just work on one specific thing to just get better at one thing. One good thing about me is my versatility, so I have to make sure that I keep getting better at everything.
NGOZI: A lot of analysts have said you’re so good because of your versatility and the fact that you can be slated for so many different positions. How were you able to become such a multifaceted player?
DRAYMOND: It all started back in my childhood and the ways that I was brought up while playing. My uncle always had me at the point guard because he use to tell me, ‘You don’t know how much more you’re going to grow, so you have to make sure you have point guard skills.’ I never understood it then, I just always thought, ‘I’m bigger than everybody, I just want to block and score on everybody.’
He kept preaching to me to learn guard skills, and when I got to high school, [Saginaw High School ] Coach Dawkins allowed me to do some things on the perimeter with the ball. Then when I got here, I just tried to keep on polishing [those skills] up, and I kind of got away from them freshman year, and Coach Dwayne Stephens stayed on me about staying in the gym and becoming a complete player, and so did Coach Izzo as well. Coach Izzo used to always tell me to use my versatility and my quickness against bigger guys and to use my strength against smaller guys because that’s the luxury that I have. Those guys just stayed on me about being a complete player, and I think it worked out for me in the end.
DRAYMOND: Michigan State has always been my dream school. When the opportunity presented itself, this was the right place for me.
NGOZI: Is you weren’t playing basketball, what do you think you’d be doing?
DRAYMOND: I’m not sure. I never really think about it like that because I am blessed enough to have a basketball career. I just try to focus on what I got and to be thankful for it because I know it could be taken away so I’ve got to cherish every moment of it.
NGOZI: Pitching yourself to NBA teams, is there a team you would love to play for?
DRAYMOND: I would love to play anywhere. I’m just hoping I can be fortunate enough to play in the NBA. Whatever team wants me, I’m going to embrace that city, team and my role on that team.