Texas A&M's sophomore guard Jordan Green is looking forward to getting started in the SEC.
A fresh start in a new conference and a chance for his team to put a challenging 2011-12 season (14-18; 4-14 Big 12) in their rear-view mirror.
Green's best offensive game as a freshman was when he scored 14 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) against No. 3 Missouri.
He became an important defensive stopper for the Aggies, holding legitimate scorers like Oklahoma State's Keiton Page and Kansas State's Rodney McGruder well below their season averages.
I had the chance to talk with the 6'5" shooting guard from Flower Mound (TX) H.S. about his perspective on his freshman year in Division I hoops, his summer trip to China and the Aggies' prospects in their first foray into one of the most athletic basketball conferences in the country.
Bleacher Report: Hey, Jordan! It's great to have a chance to talk to you and hear about what's going on.
Jordan Green: Thanks for the opportunity.
B/R: You chose to go to A&M before your junior year at Flower Mound High School (TX). What other schools were on your short list?
JG: Utah, Oregon, Texas, North Texas, Oklahoma State...
B/R: What were the biggest influences in your choice to become an Aggie?
JG: The character of the coach and the character of the players. They were all winners. Coach Mark Turgeon was a great coach who had great success, and had a strong background coaching under Larry Brown and Roy Williams (at Kansas).
I got to know Khris Middleton during the recruiting process. He is such a great example of someone who was underrated coming out of high school, but through hard work, he developed into an NBA player. The school is great. And there was a family atmosphere around the team.
B/R: What was your first thought when you found out that Coach Turgeon was leaving to go to Maryland?
JG: I was working out and found out that he was calling a press conference. I knew that something was up. Afterwards, Coach Turgeon called my dad and called me to tell us what was happening. I wasn't so mad, but just really confused. He said that he was leaving behind his most talented team. I didn't understand that. I began to learn about how it's a business.
I decided to stay at Texas A&M before they made the decision to hire Coach (Billy) Kennedy.
B/R: What did Coach Kennedy do when he first arrived to begin to move things in a positive direction?
JG: He wiped the slate clean. He gave everyone a fresh start. He said that everyone starts from the same place. And for an incoming freshman, that was good news.
B/R: Every coach has a special emphasis. Things that he focuses on. What is Coach Kennedy's primary emphases?
JG: He's a defensive-minded coach. That's what's most important to him. He always wants us to play hard. He's a Christian man and talks about values and doing the right thing on and off the court.
B/R: In what ways has Coach Kennedy helped you improve the most as a player?
JG: He has helped to instill confidence in me. He has given me the reins to my own horse. And he has impressed on me the importance of staying hungry.
B/R: What part of your game have you spent the most time working on in the last year?
JG: Defense. I'm working a lot on being able to stop my opponents and help my team on that end of the court. I've been working on becoming a better ball-handler and more consistent shooter too.
B/R: What are some of the things you've learned from your teammates?
JG: I learned from Elston (Turner). He's a coaches son (his dad is an assistant coach on the Phoenix Suns). He taught me about the importance of patience. Patience in the game. Patience in workouts.
I learned from Khris (Middleton) about maturity, about approaching ball as a business and to stay in the gym.
B/R: Last year was a challenging year. First-year coach. 14-18 record. What were the hardest parts to the 2011-12 season?
JG: First, Jamal Branch, another freshman guard, left the team and school. We got close during high school. He got to school and he decided things didn't work for him. That was difficult.
Second, losing at the end of games was really hard. Being close but not having the will to win. We've worked in the off-season so that we will be able to close games out this year.
B/R: You will be changing conferences. What is the biggest difference between playing Big 12 and SEC teams?
JG: Big 12 seems to emphasize inside play and big men. The guards run the offense and the teams play more three-quarters court basketball. In the SEC, the tempo of the game is faster. More up and down. Tons of athletic guys. Some of the best wings in the country. Very athletic.
The places that we will be playing, like Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida are some of the hardest places in college basketball to go into and play.
We're going to have to go in and earn respect. From refs. From fans. Because we had a down season last year, we may be able to sneak up on some people, at least at the beginning.
B/R: Who is the best player that you have ever guarded?
JG: Phil Pressey of Missouri. He is the best PG in the country. Does so many things well. He's 5'11" and quick. He's a very smart player.
B/R: Who is the best player that ever guarded you?
JG: Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor. He's athletic and long. Playing against an NBA-caliber player of his size and skill was a challenge.
B/R: You made a trip to China this summer. Talk about that.
JG: Great experience. Got to travel overseas and play with some excellent older players like Brad Tinsley from Vanderbilt and Jon Diebler from Ohio State. I was the youngest on the team. They sometimes treated me like their little brother (laughter). I got a chance to see how other players and other teams work and workout.
It was great to play basketball and be an ambassador for the U.S. The games were very competitive in smoke-filled arenas. Kind of "Us vs. the World" atmosphere. We were able to prove that you don't have to fight on the court.
B/R: What was one thing that you will never forget that happened on the trip?
JG: It was our fourth game there. Playing a game in a arena that seated about 10,000 people. When we came out for pregame warm-ups, the court was very slippery. Everyone was sliding. When we came back from the locker room, they had mopped the whole floor with Coke. Guys were putting their fingers down on the court to check. "Yeah. It's Coke" (laughter).
It ended up being a tight game. Went right down to the end, and I made four clutch baskets to help us win.
B/R: Any team goals for the upcoming season?
JG: Earn respect. Win the SEC regular season title. Make it to the NCAA Tournament.
B/R: What about some individual goals?
JG: Consistently start. Average in double figures. Two steals per game. Be selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
B/R: Nice. That would be quite an honor. Any final comments?
JG: My goal is to bring glory to God. I play for "an audience of One." People's comments don't bother me very much because I play for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has given me the ability to compete and the opportunity to go to a great school like Texas A&M.
B/R: Thanks, Jordan. Good luck this season!
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