On Thursday Erick Green will have the chance to become the first NBA first round pick for Virginia Tech since Dell Curry was drafted 15th in 1986.
Right now most draft specialists are predicting Green to go early in the second round, but there is a chance he could go late in the first. Green will be the first Hokie drafted since Deron Washington in 2008.
This time last year Green was just hoping that he would get drafted, but after a sensational senior season the question isn’t if, but how early. As a junior, Green averaged 15.6 points per game and earned second team All-ACC honors. For Green, 2011-2012 was by no means a bad season, but last season he proved he could do better.
At the end of the 2011-2012 season Tech underwent a coaching change and assistant James Johnson took over as head coach. Johnson originally recruited Green and his promotion helped keep Green from transferring. The new coach introduced a style of fast offensive play that better fit Green’s electric scoring ability.
During the off-season Green spent many hours in the gym to improve his game. Coach Johnson challenged him to shoot 20,000 jump shots in the summer of 2012. Johnson never thought Green would actually be able to do it, but Green completed the task. And he didn’t stop working hard once the season started, as Green was consistently the first and last player on the court.
The hard work paid off for Green as he had one of the best seasons of any Tech player ever. He averaged 25 points per game, which made him the nation’s leading scorer. Green is the first player to ever win the scoring title for the Hokies and the first major conference player to win since 1994. Green won the ACC Player of the Year even though the Hokies ended the season last place in the ACC. He also made the All-ACC first team and was named State Player of the Year by both VaSID and the Richmond Times Dispatch.
“I’m having fun,” Green said after a close home loss to Miami. “This is the most fun I’ve had in my four years. I know it’s crazy to say that cause we are losing, but I’m having a great time with these guys in my last year. These guys are getting me open and I’m making shots. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
Coaches around the league were continually impressed with Green through out the season.
Miami’s coach Jim Larranga was very impressed with Green after he scored 30 in a game when the Hurricanes beat the Hokies in Blacksburg. "I thought going to Virginia Tech, he would have a very nice career. But he's developed into the leading scorer in the country. That's a whole 'nother level," Larranaga said. "When everybody's attention is on you, you're going to get every defender's best effort. You're getting every team's best defender on the perimeter. It is very, very hard to continue to produce the way he has. It's a remarkable accomplishment."
Legendary Duke coach Mike Kryzewski was another ACC opponent that was stunned with how much Green did throughout last season.
"He's led that team and he hasn't had all the resources around him, and he still puts up those numbers," Krzyzewski said. "Just a terrific performance all year."
Johnson has supported Green all year. At the end of the year once it was announced Green was awarded the ACC Player of the Year, Johnson spoke to reporters about Green’s season.