Green chosen in second round of NBA Draft

By Brad Fauber

WINCHESTER — Erick Green could barely watch the television in the living room of his Winchester home as pick after pick was called during Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

During much of a draft that was filled with trades and surprise picks that not even the most well-informed analyst could have correctly predicted, Green could do nothing but anxiously pace about his house while waiting to hear his own name announced as one of the 60 NBA draftees.

Finally, more than four hours after the draft had started at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Green received that long-awaited phone call from his agent, Alex Saratsis. Green, a former Millbrook High School and Virginia Tech standout who led the nation in scoring this past year as a college senior, was chosen in the second round at 46th overall by the Utah Jazz and subsequently traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Upon hearing the news, the crowd of about 80 family members, friends and former teammates in attendance erupted into cheer, and chants of “Erick Green” thundered about the house as Green exchanged hugs with his parents.

“It was hard to wait, just sitting there waiting and not knowing where you’re going to go,” said Green, who became the first player from Virginia Tech to be drafted since Deron Washington was chosen 59th overall in 2008. “The draft was crazy this year. I’m not even upset. I’m not mad. I was hoping to go in the 20s, but 40s — oh well, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day.

“We thought maybe Denver would take me at 27 as a point guard, but they didn’t. They [traded] for me at 46 … and had me as a point guard. They need a point guard. They need a scoring guard, so I think it is a great fit.”

Just moments after Utah selected Green with the 46th pick, the Jazz traded the draft rights to Green, along with cash considerations, to Denver for the draft rights to center Rudy Gobert, who was taken by the Nuggets with the 27th pick in the first round.

Green, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, will need to earn a roster spot with the Nuggets (second-round picks do not receive guaranteed contracts), but Green is excited about the opportunity to work with current Denver point guard and good friend Ty Lawson.

Both Green and Lawson have worked with AAU coach Keith Stevens as members of the Washington, D.C.-based Team Takeover.

“Me and Ty have been pretty cool, so there’s no better person to learn from than someone like family,” Green said. “It’s definitely a good chance to prove myself. They’ve got Ty and Andre Miller, so I get a chance to learn from two great point guards and come in here and hopefully contribute.”

Green’s selection provided a pleasant end to an anxiety-filled evening in which Green removed himself multiple times from the living room as he sought some solitude.

Green even chose to take a few casual jump shots on a basketball goal in the cul-de-sac outside his home during the early part of the draft.

Many draft analysts had predicted Green to be chosen late in the first round or early in the second round, and a noticeable excitement began to build amongst Green’s guests when the San Antonio Spurs — a team Green had visited twice for individual workouts — went on the clock for the 28th pick in the first round. Guests were visibly disappointed when the Spurs passed on Green.

“That was hard — it got kind of tough there for a while,” Green’s mother, Tamara, said. “I think the hardest part was watching him, just that agonizing ‘When is my name going to be called?’ As a mom, my heart just breaks for him. I wanted it to be where he wanted it to be.”

Green worked out for 15 teams leading up the draft — Denver was one of those teams — and he is happy to have his NBA career begin with the Nuggets, who finished third in the Western Division with a 57-25 record this past season before losing in six games to Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.

Denver may view Green as a potential replacement for the 37-year-old Miller at the backup point guard position behind Lawson.

“They need a backup point guard,” said Green’s father, Erick Green Sr. “I know that Erick is the type of point guard that can contribute as well as score. He’s a team player and I think that with the talent they have around him, he can make them better as well as they can make him better. I’m excited, I think he’s excited, and we’re just glad that Denver is where he’s at right now.”

Green’s journey to the NBA, which included leading Millbrook to a Group AA state title as a high school junior in 2008 and winning a Division-I state title with Paul VI Catholic High as a senior in 2009, has been a long one filled with countless hours in the gym. But Green is ready for the challenge that now awaits him.

“It’s just been hectic, everywhere I’ve been, but it’s just been a great ride. This is a dream come true,” Green said. “The next step is to make a name for myself, just go in there and learn as much as I can and make a name for myself in the NBA.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com