FilAm Sports head coach Bong Ulep did not feel surprised with Jalen Green’s decision to join the G League instead of entering college last Friday.
For him, the 6-foot-6 18-year-old guard — who is a consensus five-star recruit by numerous ranking bodies — has what it takes to go toe-to-toe against much older opponents in the NBA’s minor league.
“It’s a very tough decision for him and his family because he will be the first to go this route, but Jalen is a unique player… [So much] That I called him the Uniqorn, and he kind of transcends,” said Ulep, as some of the NCAA Division I schools that recruited Green include Arizona, Florida State, USC, Auburn, and Memphis.
“When this opportunity to be one of the main guys for the G League Elite team came, I guess it was a no-brainer. It will be the best arena to develop his game and prepare him for the League. He will do it here in the US, his backyard. He is also a trailblazer, opening an avenue for deserving select high schoolers who dream of going to the NBA and [are] not keen on going to college.
“I could say that it is a great decision for him and his family. And it will inspire, not just Fil-Ams, but kids all over the US and the world,” the Filipino-American tactician, who is based in New Jersey, continued.
Ever since he was 15 years old, Green has been playing under the spotlight.
Cameras always followed him during his stay in San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno, California and, later on, Prolific Prep in Napa.
In the world stage, the Filipino-American played for Team USA in both the 2018 FIBA Under-17 and 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup. He was named as the world’s MVP during the 2018 U17 tournament.
Despite the accolades and the attention he was receiving stateside, Green still made sure to play for his mother’s homeland. He played for FilAm Sports during the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Chooks-to-Go NBTC National Finals, that saw him under the tutelage of Ulep.
“He is very observant and always wants to improve his craft. His humility, accepting, and knowing what to work on weaknesses will bring him closer to his dreams. If there’s one word to describe him, it’s highly-focused,” said Ulep as Green averaged 25.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game in the 2019 Nationals.
“As skilled as he was then, you don’t see that kind of focus, determination, and humility at that young age. What impressed me the most was his love of the game and you could see that with his creativity on the court.”
Playing for FilAm Sports is something Green did not want to miss, since he has grown to love every aspect of Philippine basketball.
“Jalen and his parents [stepdad Marcus and mom Bree] did all the hard work. FilAm Sports USA was very fortunate to have him come with us and go play at his mom’s motherland at the NBTC Nationals two years in a row. Nobody in the Philippines knew about him then, and FilAm Sports and NBTC introduced him to the Filipino people,” shared Ulep.
Green is expected to earn at least $500,000 in the G League while being under the tutelage of NBA veterans.
Ulep is confident that wherever this journey Green is in takes him, the young stalwart will never forget his experience in the Philippines.
“Hopefully, Jalen will cherish the time he spent in the Philippines and learned more of our Filipino culture, as one of our program’s objective is to promote our Filipino culture to the third and fourth generation Filipino-Americans and know more of their parents’ culture. Also, I hope that basketball-loving Filipinos will continue to support Jalen in his journey to realizing his dream to get to the NBA.”