It seems like Erick Green has been a Hokie for forever, and in fact, he committed to Virginia Tech almost exactly five years ago on January 25th, 2008. At that point, Erick was a junior at Millbrook High School in his hometown of Winchester, VA. I remember watching him lead the Pioneers in the Virginia AA State Championship Game, scoring 18 points in a 53-43 win over Bryant Stith’s (remember him from uva?) Brunswick County squad. Erick was named Virginia AA Player of the Year after averaging 19 ppg. You could tell he was a winner and I was giddy about getting him in burnt orange and Chicago maroon.
Erick’s senior year he switched to private Paul VI Catholic HS in my hometown of Fairfax, VA, and had no trouble adapting to the more competitive private school scene, averaging over 16 ppg. Erick made the Washington Post All-Met team among other honors and led Paul VI to the Virginia Independent Schools Division I Championship. After that senior season, Erick would play in the Capital Classic (and get arm curled), as well as the Reebok All-American Game, both in Washington, DC.
While Green adjusted to Paul VI very easily as a high school senior, his transition to college was not as smooth. In fact, it was pretty brutal at times, on the court, that is. Erick was not an instant star by any stretch. Remember that awkward, lurching jumpshot he had? Many of you have probably forgotten it, but the odd, falling away stroke did not produce much success early on.
2.6 ppg. That’s it. The NCAA’s current leading scorer averaged just 2.6 ppg in 13 minutes, playing in every game. The shooting numbers are even tougher to believe given the diamond he is today.
- 29% on FGs
- 28% on 3s
And those stats are misleading. Once ACC play got underway, Erick couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. I’m talking a Doo-Doo (last year) like slump, or a Robert Brown-like (current) struggle. Here were his ACC numbers.
- FGs: 12% (5/41)
- 3-Pointers: 16% (3/19)
In Tech’s final 12 ACC games, he was 2/30 on FGs (7%) and 1/12 on 3-pointers (8%), and he banked in that 3-pointer against uva! When Erick hit a jumper in the NIT Quarterfinal game against rhode island, a mock cheer went up from the crowd and one fan yelled, “Stop the game! Give’em the ball!”
There was chatter that Green wasn’t an ACC-caliber player after the season. Well, that would change…
Green’s sophomore year started much like his freshman year, with that weird hitch in his shot and limited success. After six games, he was averaging 5.0 ppg and was just 2/12 (17%) from 3-point range.
Then, the news came that Dorenzo Hudson was going to be shut down for the season and Erick was inserted into the starting lineup for Tech’s game with penn state on December 12th, 2010. The results were instantaneous. Green tied his career high with 15 points on 6/11 shooting, including 2/5 from behind the arc.
And a star was born. Erick would go on to score in double figures in the next 10 games, and 22 of Tech’s final 26 contests. That was highlighted by a new career high of 24 points at maryland on January 20th in a 74-57 win over the terps. Green was 12/16 from the floor that night, along with 4 steals. He followed that up with 14 points, 3 steals and 5 assists against longwood, leading to him being named ACC Player of the Week.
Erick wasn’t just scoring, he also became one of the best point guards in the ACC. He had an incredible assist-to-turnover ratio after becoming a starter, with 84 assists to just 37 turnovers (2.3-to-1). In one 6 game span he dished out 15 assists without a single turnover.
The only drawback his sophomore year was his 3-point percentage actually fell, from 28% as a freshman down to 25%.
With Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen gone, and Dorenzo Hudson shaking off the rust from his injuries, Erick Green became Tech’s star. And he answered the bell, going on to be named 2nd-Team All-ACC as a junior.
Erick scored in double figures in the first 27 games of the season (the streak was at 30 games overall) before clemson snapped that streak in the second-to-last game of the regular season. Green was the model of consistency, scoring double digits in 29 of 30 games, but never eclipsing the 25-point mark.
In the ACC Tournament, Erick carried the Hokies to a first round win over clemson, avenging the tigers holding him to 8 points a week earlier. Erick had 24 points on 7/11 FGs, 2/4 3s, 8/8 FTs, 4 rebounds and 4 assists…
Green’s success came in large part to his fixed jumpshot. He hit 38% of his 112 three-pointers, helping him go from 11.6 ppg as a sophomore to 15.6.
EG might as well be short for ‘Every Game’. Erick comes to play every game. Green reaches double figures in points almost every game. Check out these stats since becoming a starter early in his sophomore year (in terms of scoring 10+ points):
- 51 of 56 games
- 30 of his last 33 ACC games (amazingly, clemson supplied two of the three he hasn’t reached double digits)
- 30 games in a row (sophomore to junior year)
- 22 games in a row (current streak)
This year, he’s even turned it up a notch:
- 20+ points in 18 of 19 games
- 22+ in all 6 ACC games, including a career high 35 against uva
But what has impressed me the most is his shooting numbers. Remember that lurching jumpshot? It’s gone. Erick is now deadly from the baseline behind the arc (and inside).
- FGs: 49.5%
- 3-Pointers: 36%
- FTs: 82%
Those numbers for a guard are incredible. He also has that Jordan-like fadeaway jumper that is unstoppable, a nice pull-up jumper and runner in the paint, and gets to the line at almost Malcolm Delaney-like frequency. He’s 139/170 from the line (7.3 makes on 8.9 attempts per game). Green likely won’t catch Delaney’s records of 230 makes on 273 attempts from his junior year, but could reach his 181/213 from his senior season.
Green has been named ACC Player of the Week twice this year, giving him the honor three times for his career. After winning it on November 26th for 53 combined points against unc-g-spot and appy state, Erick won the award for the second week in a row thanks to 52 combined points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals on 14/25 FGs, 4/11 3s, and 10/22 FTs against iowa and oklahoma state. His performance against undefeated okie state was legendary – 28 points, 6/10 FGs, 4/7 3s, 12/13 FTs, 7 boards…
Plus, Erick is starting to enter hallowed ground in terms of Virginia Tech basketball players. He’s currently 19th on the all time points list with 1420. Tech will play at least 13 more games. To make the top 10 on the scoring list, he needs to average 22 points per game. Certainly reasonable considering he’s averaging 25 ppg and has scored 20+ in all but one game.
Green will come up just short of the top 10 in terms of steals. He’s at 140 and needs to get to 183 to tie Carlos Dixon for 10th. But Erick should easily crack the top 10 in assists. He’s at 286 and needs just 25 more to reach Perry Young. Given his 4.3 assist per game average (up from 2.8 last year), Erick should make it to 8th place on the all time list. His 25.2 ppg would be the 4th highest season average for a Hokie, behind Bimbo Coles (twice — 26.6 and 25.3) and Bob Ayersman (26.5).
The accolades should also follow. First Team All-ACC seems a lock at this point, and Player of the Year (no Hokie has done that before) isn’t out of the question though Tech may need to win a few more games for that to happen. Could Erick be a First Team All-American? It is certainly possible if he leads the nation in scoring. And he has to be considering for the Wooden Award, though that almost always goes to a player on a winning team, so Tech will need to turn things around.
IT’S BEEN EASY WATCHING GREEN:
Erick was blessed with good height for a guard at 6’3″, and he has a great vertical leap, and his instincts on defense off the ball to intercept passes seems ingrained in him. But he had to work to be a great scorer, or as is the case right now, the best scorer in the NCAA. What you see today is the by-product of lots of hard work and hours spent in the gym. To think he could go from averaging 2.6 ppg as a freshman and shooting 12% in ACC play, to potentially one of the 10 greatest Hokies of all time, is nothing short of remarkable. It has been a pleasure to watch him evolve, as a Virginian and as a Hokie, and here’s to a great final seven to eight weeks of his career!