Draymond Green’s storied career at Michigan State almost ended during his first season on campus.
The Golden State Warriors all-star is known for his brash style and unpredictable emotional swings as those tendencies came to a head when Green wasn’t getting minutes early in his freshman season. In a story from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Green’s high school coach, Bruce Simmons, is interviewed, as he gives some perspective on how Green turned things around early in his college career.
When Green thought about leaving for somewhere else, Simmons told him to start going after Spartans senior Marquise Gray in practice and making a name for himself by outplaying him. Simmons also instructed Green to stare down Izzo if he played well against Gray.
“His freshman year at Michigan State, he got one minute against Ohio State,” Simmons said to Shelburne. “He called and said, ‘Coach Bruce, I’m going to transfer. F— this s—.’ And I said, ‘Noooo. We don’t do that. This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to go into practice. [Senior] Marquise Gray is getting your minutes. Bust his ass. Talk s— to him. And then when you’re doing that, look at Izzo, because Izzo is putting this [guy] on the court instead of you.'”
Knowing what we know now about Green, and his tendency to trash-talk and play mind games, this approach totally makes sense for him. Not many players are capable of going to emotional war like Green is and the style worked well with Izzo as the duo made a Final Four and Green became one of the NBA’s most important players.