By Brandon Speck
TUPELO – Antonio Green scored 14 points as a freshman in the 2012 MHSAA Class 6A championship game.
That can lump a lot of pressure on a youngster at the largest school in Mississippi.
It hasn’t stopped Green, though the hype hasn’t slowed. Nor has his want to get better.
“I felt like it was something for me to live up to, but I didn’t feel pressure to live up to it,” said Green, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior. “I just come out and play basketball like I always do.”
Green is a natural scorer – “a machine from 15-feet” as Tupelo coach Jeff Norwood put it – after a 19-point game against Booneville. Listed as a shooting guard on some college radars, he runs the point for the No. 4-ranked Wave.
Green, who hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer Tuesday at Hernando, has focused this season on putting more trust in his teammates, especially with so many defenses geared up to stop him.
“He’s got a natural knack for how to play. He’s a scorer. He can get to the basket. He’s fast,” Norwood said. “And what I like most about him is he keeps coming and keeps coming and keeps coming and won’t stop.”
He’s a believer
Norwood says the 14-point game in the state finals may have incidentally taken some focus off of some of the non-scoring parts of Green’s game. But those parts are clearly being added – he’s had a 14-assist game this season.
Norwood is a believer that Green is a Division I player. One of the coach’s goals is to get him as focused on defense as he is on offense, where he says he’s good, it’s just not on his mind.
He’s on opponents’ minds. Luckily for the Wave, Tupelo has plenty of help, including other top scorer, senior guard Isaiah Traylor.
“It really helps us out when defenses know Antonio can score,” Traylor said. “It opens shots up. When they get to him, it opens things up for the whole team.”
Green may not feel the pressure, but hype continues to come his way. It doesn’t hurt that Tupelo has won five straight games and seems to be moving its way into the 6A playoff conversation.
Whether from the point, the wing or wherever his improving – and hyped – game takes him, Green is focused and adding to his natural scoring abilities.
“I’ve got to keep working, hit the weight room,” Green said, “become a better point guard if that’s what I have to play at the next level.”