Devonte Green looks for own basketball niche

Devonte Green, a Long Island All-Star guard from Devonte Green, a Long Island All-Star guard from St. Mary's, controls an inbound pass during a game against the New York City All-Stars. (Oct. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

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Bob Herzog Newsday sports reporter Bob Herzog

Herzog covers high school sports as a writer and columnist. His primary area of coverage is football, ...

Devonte Green wouldn't mind playing in the NBA someday, just like his older brother Danny.

"But," he said defiantly, "I want to create my own path. I don't want to just be Danny Green's little brother."

For now, Devonte's path is a meandering one. The 6-2 combo guard played varsity basketball at North Babylon as a seventh and eighth-grader, transferred to St. Mary's in Manhasset, where he starred last season as a freshman, and earlier this month, transferred again, this time to independent powerhouse Long Island Lutheran.

Myriad places, myriad skills.

At Sunday's Metro Classic, Green, a sophomore, scored 23 points to help the Long Island team rally for a thrilling 119-118 victory over New York City in a game played at one of the city's most hallowed high school gymnasiums, Archbishop Molloy in Queens.

"It definitely got intense out there. Bragging rights are at stake," said Green. "It was fun and it was very competitive. You're playing against the best kids in New York."

Green mimicked his brother's style in the first half, sinking three from downtown. But in the fourth quarter, when Long Island rallied from a 94-81 deficit with 8:21 left with a 20-2 spurt that produced a 101-96 lead with 4:44 to play, Green drove to the hoop and played ball-hawking defense. "I don't really emulate Danny's game that much," Green said. "He's more of a spot-up shooter. I'm more of an attack guard."

Danny's spot-up shooting was spot-on through the first five games of last spring's NBA Finals when he set the league record for three-pointers in a Finals as his San Antonio Spurs took a 3-2 lead against the Miami Heat. Then Danny, who starred in high school at St. Mary's and college at North Carolina, went cold in the last two games, shooting just 2-for-19. Still, he finished with a record 27 treys, but the Spurs lost the Heat in seven games.

One particularly interested spectator in Miami for Games 6 and 7 was Devonte Green. And even though he saw his brother have poor shooting games and is determined to carve out his own basketball niche, the kid's eyes went wide as did his smile when he said, "I was really proud of Danny."

Danny would return the favor if he could see Devonte's ever-improving game. He has added three-point range to go along with his quick hands on defense, and his drive-and-dish skills on offense. It was Green's steal and lefty layup that gave Long Island a 97-96 lead with 5:07 left. He scored 10 fourth-quarter points.

But Devonte acknowledged his brother would be all over him for shooting just 6-for-13 from the foul-line. (Danny is a career 81 percent free-throw shooter.)

"I jammed my thumb playing ball earlier in the week and it bothered me a little. I'm usually a good free-throw shooter," Devonte said.

Green had help in Long Island's comeback victory in the annual "Boros vs. Burbs" all-star game. Aaren Edmead of Deer Park scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Mike Nzei, a 6-7 forward from Our Savior New American, earned MVP honors with 19 points. The NYC team was led by Seton Hall-bound Isaiah Whitehead of Lincoln who scored 21 points and C.J. Davis of Molloy who added 18.

"The first three quarters was all about offense. The fourth quarter was about locking up your man," said Edmead, one of Long Island's top returning seniors who accurately summed up the plot of most all-star games.

It's Showtime for both teams - with fancy, low-percentage passes and acrobatic shots designed to please the crowd - until it turns into Crunch Time in the fourth quarter. Then both coaches forget the rotations and playing-time promises and go with the hot hands.

That put Green, a starter, and Edmead, a sub, together in the backcourt for most of the rally. "In the beginning of the game, guys were cruising," Edmead said. "Then in the fourth it got to be a competitive game. I had to be the point guard who got us the ball, got to the lane and created."

Edmead nailed two three-pointers early in the fourth and, when the City squad twice surged to within two in the final minute, sank 4-of-4 free throws.

"I knew what we had in Devonte and Aaren because I coached them both in summer ball," said Long Island head coach Andre Edwards of St. John the Baptist. "When it's the fourth quarter, it's time to go."

So Edwards went with his go-to guys.

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