Plenty of graduating high school seniors are good enough to play at the highest level of collegiate basketball. But plenty of them don’t.
For whatever reason, be it issues in the classroom, issues off the court or wanting a further chance to develop, they choose the junior college route as an intermediate step to the Division I scholarship they hope will eventually come.
But only about 1 percent of high school players across the country end up playing Division I men’s basketball, according to the latest NCAA statistics. George Washington graduate Jervay Green, a primary architect of the Patriots’ resurgence as a Class 5A power in 2017, knows as much.
That’s why immediately upon arriving at Western Nebraska Community College — where he landed after academic issues caused Division I coaches to pass on him – the 6-foot-3 combo guard honed his focus, so much so that he earned a scholarship to play at the University of Nebraska next season.
“I’m not even going to sugarcoat it — I got overlooked because of grades,” Green said. “Ever since I found out I couldn’t play D-I out of high school, (Western Nebraska head coach) Cory Fehringer and the staff here have been great with helping me stay on top of my school work. I got eligible, and I’ve stayed eligible.”
On the court, Green has been nothing short of dominant while evolving into the No. 3-rated junior college prospect in the nation.
The player who set a Class 5A scoring record with 64 points in a game as a senior at George Washington has continued to shine at the offensive end. Green averaged 14.9 points as a freshman in helping the Cougars win their first Region IX title in 17 years, and his output has increased this season to a 25.5 scoring average.
With his grades in line, Division I coaches flocked to see Green. In addition to his offer from Nebraska, Green turned down scholarships from Arizona State, Iowa State and Pacific, among many others.
“From where he was at in high school to where he’s at now — then, he wasn’t really recruited, obviously, but he was just considered another Division I player,” Fehringer said. “And now, you’ve got (coach) Mark Few at Gonzaga, Bobby Hurley at Arizona State, Lon Kruger at Oklahoma … The best of the best realizing that he’s as good of a ballplayer as there is in the country.”
Green set the Western Nebraska CC school record with a 51-point game Dec. 16 against Indian Hills, and has also dropped 40-plus points on two other teams this season. He’s also been a prolific finisher at the rim and has improved as a knockdown shooter, whether from mid-range or long distance. He drained 10 3-pointers in his 51-point game.
“This year, we expect him to have the ball in his hand the majority of the time,” Fehringer said. “He’s expected to score at a high rate, assist at a high rate, rebound at a high rate, defend at a high rate with aggressiveness. It’s been impressive to see him shoulder so much.”
And as Internet chatter has picked up about Green’s potential impact once he arrives in Lincoln — he’s expected to immediately compete for time in the Cornhuskers’ backcourt — the guy who had zero Division I offers out of high school believes playing at Nebraska will be the next step, and not the final one, in his basketball journey.
“Overseas, NBA — I’m not picky,” Green said. “I’d definitely like to play professionally somewhere. I just have to keep my focus, on and off the court.”
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