Scouts in the US have compared Filipino-American sensation Jalen Green to many NBA greats.
Some see him as a combo guard like Penny Hardaway, while some liken his game to lethal scorer Tracy McGrady.
But for Alaska head coach and Junior NBA mentor Jeff Cariaso, the 18-year-old Green reminds him of a legend — the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant.
“He reminds me of that young Kobe a little bit, where he can do everything.”
Cariaso said this during a session of Republika Huddle over at NBA Philippines.
For starters, Bryant and Green are almost the same height. And just like Bryant, Green has foregone going to college, instead opting to join the G League’s Pro Pathway program.
“At his age level, he is really at the elite level amongst his peers,” opined Cariaso, who played in the PBA from 1995-2010 before moving on to coaching.
“You know that he is not going to learn anything with his current status if he stays where he is, playing with the same guys.”
Green himself has shown glimpses of his “Kobe moves”.
Days after Bryant passed away last January, Green, who was then playing for Prolific Prep, paid tribute to Kobe by dropping 40 points while wearing a pair of Kobe 4s.
“When you watch him, he is athletic. He can shoot, he is a defender, his energy is non-stop. It seems like he was coachable. He was a little bit emotional the last time he was here,” said Cariaso, who watched Green play here during the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC National Finals.
“But there’s no question he can play.”
With the talent already there, all Green needs is to put in the much-needed work. For Cariaso, nothing comes easy in the pro ranks. Cariaso knows this all too well.
“His skillset is already that good where he needs to kinda up the level in order to improve.”