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Nuggets prospect Erick Green was former two-sport star

NCAA scoring leader talked about football background during visit to Denver

Erick Green is a dynamic scorer who averaged an NCAA-leading 25 points per game as a senior at Virginia Tech.
Nuggets.com

Growing up in Winchester, Va., Erick Green was a two-sport youth sensation, playing point guard on the basketball court and quarterback on the football field.

The two sports were in his genes. Mom played basketball at Howard University, while Dad was a running back, also at Howard.

One hard tackle in a high-school football game convinced his parents to direct their son down a more focused athletic path.

“I broke my elbow playing quarterback,” Green said. “I dropped back for a pass and got hit. Mom and Dad called it quits after that. They made the call.”

No one can second-guess the decision now.

After leading the NCAA in scoring as a senior at Virginia Tech last season, Green joined the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night when they acquired his rights as the 46th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Green, who can play both guard positions, worked out for the Nuggets at Pepsi Center on June 19. Afterwards, he spent a few minutes answering questions for Nuggets.com.

When did you first pick up a basketball?

“I was like 5 years old. We were playing outside and I remember playing on a small hoop. We have pictures in my house and my mom and dad were just outside and we were always shooting, shooting, shooting. That is what I remember most.”

You led the nation in scoring (25 ppg) but your Virginia Tech team had a tough season. What was that like for you?

“There were nights where I just wanted to win. I never made it to the NCAA tournament and I wanted to do that. I wanted to give up my points just to make the tournament one time. When things aren’t going your way, you have to find a way to get the guys together and try to get a win.”

Even though you would trade the scoring title for team success, do you take pride in the fact that it’s something that can never been taken away from you?

“It is a great honor to have underneath my belt. To say I have the national scoring title; not too many people get so say that. Doing it in the ACC and doing it on 17 shots is kind of amazing when I look back at it. It takes a lot of people like 20 shots so I look at it as a great legacy to leave behind.”

I heard you’re a gym rat.

“That’s where I love to be. I just feel like I can get better and better. If you’re not in the gym, then I don’t know... That’s where I feel like I should be.”

“The earliest would be a routine with me and my strength coach at 6:30 in the morning. The latest would be me and my friend Adam would go in at about 11 at night. We were bored; we were roommates and we would go in and stay until about 12:30.”

Considering your dad was a football player, how much did you play growing up?

“I played all the way up until I was in high school. We had a lot of fun. I was pretty good but I didn’t want to give it up. My father coached me, and we had great times. I love football. We still watch football together up until this very day.”

I read something about other parents complaining because you were too good. Is that true?

“When I was in little league basketball they would make me sit out. When I was in, I would score 15 or 20 points in the first half and then they would make me sit out. They wouldn’t let me score again – like it was a rule that he couldn’t score again. I had my little sister on the team, so it was cool to pass her the ball and see her score. And in football they limited the amount of touchdowns I could score. I couldn’t score a lot of touchdowns.”

You don’t have to worry about that now.

“It’s been a heck of a journey. I never thought I would be at where I am today. Just seeing how hard work has taken over and putting basketball first means a lot to me. To see myself grow every day really means a lot to me.”