Former Lawrence High basketball coach Chris Davis made his way to Fort Collins, Colo., to watch one of his favorite former stars play for Colorado State and he didn’t have to wait to see Dorian Green to see him.
A giant image of Green, which filled a billboard with the words, “Protect the Fort,” stared down at Davis.
“My heart grew a size, right there,” Davis said. “Boom.”
Shortly after that Davis was talking with one of the athletic administrative assistants and she was busy because that’s a constant state for workers in her job.
“She said, ‘Oh, you coached Dorian in high school? We love him. We love him. We love him,’” Davis recounted, his heart growing another size right there, boom. “There was never a situation where I talked to somebody about Dorian who didn’t stop what they were doing to talk about how much they love him. He’s about as special as anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
Tim Miles recruited Green to Colorado State, coached him for three years, started him every single game. Miles left for Nebraska and Larry Eustachy replaced him. Eustachy has started him every game. Green has made a school-record 126 starts for Colorado State. His streak is in jeopardy because he sprained his ankle and said Tuesday afternoon he was not yet sure he would be able to play at 4:30 p.m. today for the second-seeded Rams in a Mountain West Conference tournament opener against Fresno State in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
After his stellar career at LHS, Green was recruited by Wagner College and Colorado State and offered preferred walk-on status by Kansas. Just think: He could have been a walk-on on a top 25 team. Instead he’s a four-year starter at a school that four weeks ago was ranked 24th and climbed to 22nd a week after that.
He’s a huge part of a senior class that turned a losing program into one surely headed for its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. He averaged 35 minutes a game as a freshman, so it’s not as if he ever had any reason to doubt he picked the right school. He’ll leave CSU ranked in the top four in career assists and has averaged 13.1 points per game two seasons in a row. He has scored 1,427 points and counting. He recently was named to the All-Mountain West second team.
“We’re a league that a lot of people kind of sleep on,” Green said. “It’s great basketball. It’s been a great college experience at a great university and we still have a lot of basketball left to play. You can’t really ask for much more for a college career.”
His decision to give up baseball and dedicate himself to academics and basketball has worked out so well he hasn’t spent a second wondering whether he did the right thing there either.
“The last time I threw a baseball, picked up a bat or wore a glove is probably our last game of state,” said Green, a hard-throwing right-hander with a nice breaking ball and good control. He also played well in center field. “I’m sure I’d be terrible if I tried to play now. I couldn’t hit then so I don’t think I’d be able to hit now.”
He can still hit long-range jumpers, not to mention cutting teammates with precise passes.
Green experienced the same uneasiness all athletes do when a coaching change takes place. But that didn’t last long and he said he thinks learning from two coaches who bring different approaches doubles the knowledge he can bring to his coaching career once he’s done playing. He said he would like to earn money playing in Europe, but won’t invest any energy into plotting that path now because all his attention is trained on seeing if he and his Rams teammates can reel off some victories.
So many friends, coaches and teachers who came to know the humble straight-A student during his high school days will be watching the Rams closely on television.
“What a perfect match,” Davis said of Green and the school whose color is green. “I’m as sincere as I can be. I mean, Fort Collins loves him.”
So does Lawrence.