In January of 2016, Tom Crean added a fourth member of his 2016 recruiting class with the addition of New York area guard Devonte Green. The three-star, top-200 guard from Luther High School (LuHi) in Long Island chose Indiana over other schools. Specifically he mentioned that “[Coach Crean] told me he sees something special in me. He told me that he wouldn’t have given me the offer if he didn’t… I really like the school, coach Crean and all of the coaching staff.”
The guard position was especially critical given Indiana’s four-year starter Yogi Ferrell would be graduating and begin his interesting journey to the NBA.
The Indiana road for Devonte Green has bumpy and not been easy by any means. *You can insert your own pot hole joke here.*
After just one year and a roller-coaster ride of a season that ended in the first round of the NIT, the coach that once recruited him, believed in him, and was one of the reasons he chose to play for the Hoosiers was fired. A new coach, with opposite floor-priorities took his place. A world of offense and speed transformed into one that was defensively-schemed and more intentional.
With an obvious lack of point guards on the Indiana roster, Devonte Green played as more of a true point guard due to his size, whereas he fits more naturally and comfortably as a shooting guard, or even combo guard.
The change was hard for Devonte Green. Archie Miller mentioned on a number of occasions about his conversations with Devonte Green. The new defensive play style is not easy to learn. Not all players have the unique characteristics that make them effective in a pack-line scheme. While he could have easily given up and sought transfer opportunities, Green wanted to improve, wanted to not give up, and most importantly he wanted to help out his Indiana team.
This past season, where the Hoosiers started off strong with a 12-2 opening, Devonte Green struggled to find consistency in the early stages of the season. If you take away performances against Chicago State, Jacksonville, and Central Arkansas, Green struggled to tally more than 6 points in any of the fist stanza of the season.
Of course we all know about the incident mid-way through the season where Devonte Green was suspended for a three-game period for “not meeting the standards expected of members of the [Indiana Basketball] program.”
Will Devonte Green be the team leader of the 2019-2020 Hoosiers?
Fast forward to today and now Devonte Green has been the longest tenured Indiana basketball player alongside fellow senior De’Ron Davis. As you may recall, the other half of the 2016 recruiting have both left the Indiana program: Curtis Jones and Grant Gelon.
Devonte Green started making his case by the end of last season. Once the realization settled that tournament-hopes may be ending if the Hoosiers do not make a serious run for NCAA consideration, the Hoosiers played a higher level all around. Green was a big part of that performance upgrade.
After averaging just 7.4 points per game for the season until the home Michigan State game in early March, Devonte Green would close out the Hoosiers regular season and Big Ten tournament with an average of 16.5 points per game – more than double his performance rest of the season until that point in time.
During the span, he shot a blistering 14 of 21 from behind the arc (66.7%) and just missed one of his seven free throw attempts. Also noteworthy, he averaged 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
His most impressive performance all season came in the Big Ten tournament, when he single-handedly kept the Hoosiers in a hard-fought battle against the Buckeyes. He scored a career high 26 points and made 8 of 10 from behind the arc.
When asked what he attributed to his success offensively, Green responded after the Ohio State performance, “I started knocking down some threes. Once I started feeling it, I just started heating up and got hot.”
However, despite Green’s unearthly performance, the Hoosiers lost that game and many believed also lost a tournament opportunity.
Green’s improved performance continued into Indiana’s three-game NIT run where Devonte added 14.0 points per game and 4.3 assists to a Romeo-less Hoosiers team. After the season, Devonte Green took the opportunity to hear feedback from the NBA, and ultimately withdrew from draft-contention.
Without Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford, the leaders of the Hoosiers next year will certainly come down to seniors Devonte Green and De’Ron Davis; however Davis has had a number of injury challenges that has taken significant minutes out of his career at IU. Green has played in 91 games relative to Davis’s 72.
Joey Brunk has equal experience and age as those two, but he may not yet be ready to take on the role as the singular leader of the Hoosiers. Rob Phinisee has been directing traffic very effectively on the floor, but he still has at least another year before he likely takes on the role as the Hoosiers’ leader.
The combination of two full years under Archie Miller’s system, a promising sign of offensive consistency, improved defense and court-decisions, Devonte Green has everything he needs to own next year’s Hoosiers.
But is he ready for that role? Will there be any additional off-court issues that could crumble credibility? Will another player instead take on the role that Juwan Morgan is vacating?