Green follows his hoops dream to South Carolina

Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball standout Mike Green II considered many factors in making his decision to walk on at the University of South Carolina – academics, basketball, social life and more.

But in the end, it all came down to two little words: “What if?”

“The biggest thing was I didn’t want to go through life wondering ‘what if?'” said Green, the Saints’ all-time leading scorer with 2,495 career points. “Not many people get the opportunity to play for a Power 5 (conference) program, so I didn’t want to look back later in life and think, ‘I wonder if I could have played at that level?’ ”

The 6-foot-3 guard had other opportunities to play college basketball on a full or partial scholarship, low- to mid-major programs like USC Upstate and UNC Greensboro. But with some academic scholarships secured (Green will enter USC as a sophomore) and the urge to test his skills against the best of the Southeastern Conference, Green said the choice was an easy one.

“It was a great opportunity and it just felt like the right place for me – academically, athletically and socially,” said Green, who will join future Gamecocks teammates Jalyn McCreary of Greenville Legacy Charter School and Trae Hannibal of Hartsville High in Columbia. “I’m excited to get up there and get started.”

Green plans to enroll in summer school at USC in June and participate in offseason workouts with the Gamecocks. He gained confidence last season in leading the Saints to the SCISA Class 2A semifinals, and last summer by playing AAU ball with McCreary and against Hannibal.

But perhaps his biggest inspiration came in seeing former SCISA foe Zion Williamson prove naysayers wrong. Critics thought Williamson was untested and unready to compete with the best of the ACC, but Williamson countered by earning the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award.

“No matter who you are, there’s a stigma attached to private school players that they don’t play against good competition,” said Green, whose Saints went head-to-head (and lost) to Williamson’s Spartanburg Day for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 SCISA state finals. “People were saying that about Zion and look what he’s done at Duke.”

Green watched Williamson dominate in the ACC this season, but the 3-point sharpshooter doesn’t compare himself to Mt. Zion. “He’s a beast,” Green said. “Maybe if there was a league full of Zions, I might have made a different decision, but I have confidence that I can go out and compete at that level.”

Green, who committed via Twitter on April Fool’s Day during the midst of the NCAA Tournament, admits to catching a case of March Madness and dreaming about the chance to play in the Big Dance someday. The tournament opens the door to smaller teams looking to prove themselves against the best, much like Green’s decision to suit up for the Gamecocks.

“March Madness is the biggest stage in college sports, except maybe for the College Football Playoff,” Green said. “There’s just something about that atmosphere, knowing it doesn’t matter who you are or who is the favorite and anybody can beat anybody, I would love to get the chance to play in it someday.”

It’s just one more “what if” to scratch off his bucket list.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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