By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Erick Green has had plenty of memorable moments in his four years at Virginia Tech. However, nothing can top what he witnessed for his final home game against Clemson on March 2.
The Hokies had a Green-out, and the fans all wore green in his honor.
"That meant a lot to me, for everybody to show how much they've appreciated what I've done," Green said in an interview this week. "And I really appreciate everything they've done for me during my time there. It's been a great journey."
That journey on the basketball court may come to an end this week when the Hokies play in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Virginia Tech is the 12th seed and would need to win the tournament to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament.
The Hokies play fifth-seeded N.C. State today in the opening round at 2:30 p.m.
It's been a special season for Green, although the team has struggled at times. The Millbrook standout has had by far his best season offensively and is the nation's leading scorer at 25.3 points per game.
Green said he has been just as surprised as anybody that he leads the nation in scoring.
"I think it just shows that all the hard work I put in has paid off," Green said. "I've had to put some things away, like not going out as much and things like that, so that I could focus on basketball and trying to make my dreams come true."
Along with leading the nation in scoring, Green was selected as the ACC Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Green said he went to several NBA camps, including one by NBA star Chris Paul and another by NBA star Deron Williams.
He said the camp really helped his game out a lot.
"You do a lot of 3-on-3 and 1-on-1," Green said. "The biggest thing is it really gives you a lot of confidence. You're playing and learning from the best of the best."
Green has steadily progressed through his four seasons at Virginia Tech. As a freshman, he struggled with playing time, but did start one game for the Hokies.
During his sophomore year Green became a starter, starting in 26 games, and averaged 11.6 points per game. He led the team in steals (56) and was second on the team in assists. Green said he learned a lot from Hokie standout Malcolm Delaney.
"Malcolm really helped me out a lot," Green said. "He showed me how to be a leader. I tried to learn as much as I could from him."
Last year, Green led the team by scoring 15.6 points per game. He also led the team with 88 assists and 41 steals. He was a second team All-ACC selection last season.
Things seemed to be going great for Green, but then things took a bad turn. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenburg was fired at the end of last season, and Green's future with the team was suddenly in doubt.
Green wasn't sure if he would stick around or needed to transfer to another college.
"That was a really hard time for me," Green said. "I sat down with my family and talked about the situation and what was best for me. We didn't know who the new coach would be and if they would run an offense that would be the right fit for me."
Green waited until the hire was made and was relieved when assistant coach James Johnson was promoted to head coach. Johnson was the one who recruited Green when he was at Millbrook, and he said it was a "no-brainer" to stay for his senior season.
"He always had faith in me, and I had faith in him," Green said.
Even though Green has shined this season, the Hokies have struggled. Virginia Tech won its first seven games, but then lost 15 of its next 19 games.
The Hokies have a young squad, and Green said he's tried to really help the younger players along, not only on the court, but off it as well.
Virginia Tech played N.C. State only once this season, but gave the Wolfpack a tremendous fight. The Hokies lost 90-86 to the Wolfpack in overtime on Feb. 16.
"I think it's a good matchup for us," Green said. "We gotta play like it's a new season, everybody's starting out 0-0. We've just got to come to play and leave it all out there for 40 minutes."
As with most athletes, Green's ultimate dream has always been to play in the pros. At this point, Green is projected by many experts to be picked in June's NBA draft.
Green said it's something that has been on his mind, and he's excited about the possibility of playing in the NBA.
"I'm just trying to take it all in," Green said. "If it works out for me to hear my name called on draft day on national television, it would be an honor. I've worked my tail off every day to try to get to that level. It would truly be a dream come true."
For now Green wants to finish up his senior year at Virginia Tech, which includes graduating in May.
Green said he's really enjoyed his time at Virginia Tech.
"I love just being a Hokie," Green said. "Everywhere I go, whether it's California or Texas, I always run into somebody who's a Hokie. I just love being a part of Hokie Nation.
"I'm also just really proud of how I've grown into a young man over the last four years. I've put in a lot of hard work in trying to make my dreams come true. And to see myself go from a boy to a man has been something I'm really proud of."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org