With his college basketball career finished and his mind fixed on playing overseas, former Colorado State and Lawrence High standout Dorian Green stepped into assistant coach Niko Medved’s office for a meeting and stepped out with a job offer.
Medved, who was the first CSU coach to begin recruiting Green during his senior season at LHS, was on the brink of being hired as the head coach at Furman University and wasted no time explaining to Green that he wanted him to join his coaching staff.
“He just told me, ‘I’m in the running for a head-coaching job and if I get it, you’ve got a job,’” recalled the 22-year-old Green. “So I had a little time to think about it, but it definitely came out of left field and it surprised me and shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
With the opportunity of a lifetime on one hand and the dream of playing professional ball on the other, Green wrestled with the decision for several days before ultimately deciding to accept Medved’s offer. The LHS grad was officially named to Medved’s staff in early June and has spent the past few weeks going through team workouts and preparing to hit the road for his first stab at recruiting.
Green credits his own common sense and desire to get into coaching along with a friendly shove from former CSU coach Tim Miles, now the head coach at Nebraska, for helping him say yes.
“It was difficult because I wasn’t ready to stop playing,” Green said. “But I also knew that I wanted to get into the coaching profession. So I tried to look at it as a win-win situation. But I really had to dig deep. It was a tough decision.”
While weighing the pros and cons of the offer, something Miles had told him kept replaying in Green’s mind. Miles, who never has hidden his love and admiration of Green, shared the key phrase during a recent interview with the Journal-World.
“I called Dorian and said, ‘Dorian, I’d highly recommend you do this. I know you don’t want to stop playing, but that experience isn’t going to be anything like what you experienced playing in a sold-out Moby Arena (at CSU),’” Miles began. “‘There’s only 1,000 of those jobs out there and there are a 100,000 guys that want those. It’s just too good of an opportunity to pass up.’”
Despite his lack of experience in a suit and tie, the idea of adding Green to his staff at the Greenville, S.C., university was appealing to Medved for a number of reasons. He outlined them during a recent video interview on the Furman website, and began with the one thing that allowed Green start a school-record 128 consecutive games during his four seasons at Colorado State.
“As much as any player I’ve ever coached, Dorian just has some special intangibles,” Medved said. “He’s as smart and cerebral as any player I’ve ever coached, and he really helped change the culture at Colorado State.”
Beyond that, Medved’s bond with Green — and Green’s with Medved — made the pairing ideal for both head coach and assistant.
“I was very, very comfortable doing it,” Medved said. “I’m not concerned at all about his age. He really just has a great feel for the game, and he really knows what I expect. He knows the way we teach it, how it works and I think he’s gonna be a great role model and mentor for our kids. I just think he was the right fit for what I was looking for. In that regard, he has more experience than anyone I could’ve hired.”
Green said he thought being nearly the same age as the players he now coaches would be a huge advantage for him both in the gym and on the recruiting trail.
“It’ll be easy to relate to everything these kids are going through,” he said. “If there’s anything they want to know about college basketball, I just got done doing it.”
Both Miles and Medved said they believe Green is at the beginning of a promising coaching career. By beginning as a full-time Division I assistant instead of going through the grind of serving as a graduate assistant or director of operations first, both said they could see Green climbing the coaching ladder quickly.
“He’s gonna be terrific,” Medved said. “Obviously, he has a lot to learn, but I know he’ll learn quickly. He’s been successful at everything he’s done in his life, and I have no doubt he’ll be successful at this.”
Added Miles: “By doing this, he’s skipping steps. He could be one of those guys who could be 30 years old and be a head Division I coach. This kid is gonna be a rock star. I just think he’s a special dude, and I think he’s gonna be really good as he learns the game.”
As for how the first few weeks of life on the other side of the clipboard have treated him, Green, who graduated from CSU last May with a health and exercise science degree, said he already has learned that there’s a lot more that goes into coaching than drawing up plays and setting up drills.
“It’s been crazy because there’s so much that I have to learn,” he said. “It’s a lot different than what I was expecting and what I knew. It’s kind of information overload right now. But it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I just know I’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go.”