BRADENTON, Fla. - These are heady times for Australian basketball prodigy Josh Green, who keeps adding to an athletic résumé that is already remarkably well rounded.
On the heels of a 19-point, 10-rebound performance for IMG Academy in its win over Oak Hill Academy on ESPN TV in a matchup of top American high school programs, the Sydney native and University of Arizona signee earned a coveted spot in the McDonald's All American Game.
The McDonald's showcase is the gold standard for prep hoops in the United States, boasting alumni such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving. The selection is both an honor and an affirmation for Green, cementing his place among the best young players in the game. It validates the 6-foot-6, 206-pound shooting guard's steady rise as a prospect since arriving in the U.S. four years ago.
"When I came over here, I wasn't the greatest player," Green said. "I was a lot smaller. I was purely just a straight knockdown shooter."
Now Green is an all-around player who can drive to the hoop, score from beyond the arc, make plays on the fast break and use his 6-foot-10 wingspan as a defensive weapon. He has sharpened his skills every year to get to this point.
As a high school freshman, he teamed with older brother Jay to lead Mountain Ridge High into the Arizona state tournament. The following season, Green said, was a turning point, as he got the opportunity to compete alongside dominant center Deandre Ayton at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix.
"I started progressing a lot when I started playing with DeAndre," Green said of Ayton, who went on to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. "Just being able to play with him, I feel like I got a lot better ... having DeAndre around was amazing. At a young age, he was able to help me through things. To this day, we're really good friends."
Green challenged himself further last season by transferring to IMG Academy, the acclaimed international sports training facility and boarding school in southwest Florida. This season, he bounced back from a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair a torn labrum. Through Thursday's game, he was averaging 15.6 points and four assists per game season while shooting 46 percent from 3-point range.
Two of Green's teammates, center Armando Bacot and power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, also earned McDonald's All American nods - making the Ascenders (22-1) the first team ever with three honorees in the same season, in an event that dates to 1977. This year's contest will be held on March 27 in Atlanta and televised on ESPN2.
Speaking after a home game Saturday night, Green sounded as excited for his teammates as he did for himself.
"That's a pretty big deal. We made history," Green said. "It's something you dream about being a part of ... I'm just grateful I have the opportunity."
IMG coach Sean McAloon said: "To their credit, they trusted in the fact that we said if they came here, they had a possibility of getting three, which had never been done," he said. "They play for each other. They move the ball well. They cheer for each other."
The McDonald's All American announcement on Thursday marked the zenith of a whirlwind week for the Ascenders. IMG defeated Huntington Prep of West Virginia in Dayton, Ohio, the previous Friday, then traveled to play Oak Hill in the prestigious Hoophall Classic at Springfield College in Massachusetts, on the same campus where the sport of basketball was invented.
It was the third consecutive Hoophall appearance for Green. He played there with Hillcrest Prep in 2017 and nearly recorded a triple-double last year, with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for IMG against Westtown School of Pennsylvania and current Duke University star Cam Reddish.
A few hours after the McDonald's picks were announced, the Ascenders rode the emotion to an easy win at home over Superior Collegiate of Clearwater, Florida. On Saturday, they finally showed some weariness in a sluggish victory against Central Pointe Christian Academy from the Orlando area.
But with only one basketball to go around, how do the Ascenders manage to share the wealth effectively?
"I think all the time about how many great players we have on our team and how unselfish we are," said Robinson-Earl, who is signed to play at Villanova University next season. "We're very selfless as a whole, because we're good friends off the court, and obviously on the court, so it just translates."
ESPN projects Green as the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, should he elect to turn pro after just one season at Arizona. Despite the lofty ranking and myriad choices of places to play next season, Green said he didn't seriously consider plying his trade in the NBL while waiting to become eligible for the draft. Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson took that route, playing for the Adelaide 36ers last season, but Green believes developing at the University of Arizona is the best path for him.
"I feel so comfortable with Arizona ... I never thought of any other scenarios," Green said. "I've had people approach me about going to the [NBA developmental] G-League, but I feel so comfortable with Arizona that there's no need for me to go overseas or play professionally."
That should provide a smooth transition for Green, who certainly seems comfortable at IMG, a sentiment backed by coaches and teammates.
"He's a big jokester in the locker room," said Bacot, who is signed to play at the University of North Carolina next season. "Everyone loves him. As a player, he's just so unselfish. Every day, he brings it. He's always one of the first players in the gym and is always encouraging the other guys."