Father-son bond– A.J. Green’s dream to play under his dad

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Father-son bond– A.J. Green’s dream to play under his dad

Courtesy Photo/UNI Athletics

Courtesy Photo/UNI Athletics

Courtesy Photo/UNI Athletics

JACOB POTTER, Sports Editor

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Ever since UNI’s starting point guard A.J. Green was in middle school, he envisioned the dream of playing for UNI under his dad Kyle Green, UNI associate head coach, with the two being able to enjoy the journey together every step of the way.

“It’s something I’m really grateful for,” A.J. Green said.  “Not many other kids playing college basketball get to experience the college basketball life with their dad.  It’s something that’s really cool.”

“I feel really fortunate,” Kyle Green said.  “As a coach I always hoped to get a chance to coach him someday and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Both relish the opportunity knowing that A.J. was a top-100 recruit with offers from some of the nation’s best basketball programs, including Virginia and Gonzaga.

“That says a lot about him wanting to play in front of his family,” Kyle Green said.  “He knows firsthand what it’s like here when we’ve gone to the NCAA Tournament, what it’s like when we’ve gone to the Sweet 16 because he was on the court.  He got to be there, so he knew he could do those things here.”

Cedar Falls has always been home for A.J., coming from humble beginnings at Holmes Junior High, which was the point that he knew he wanted to play college basketball in his hometown under his dad.

“By the time in junior high, I think he knew that he’d like to play at that level,” Kyle Green said.  “That’s about the same time in 2010 when we were going to the Sweet 16, so I think he saw that and said, ‘This is really cool.’”

Motivated by the magic of the 2010 team, A.J. continued to improve, playing at Cedar Falls High School where he led the team with 26 points per game to win the 2018 state championship. 

The Cedar Falls native ultimately became the all-time leading scorer in the history of Cedar Falls High School with UNI on the horizon.  He then took his talents right down the road to the McLeod Center, where he averaged 15.1 points per game as a true freshman.

“It’s amazing,” A.J. said on playing in his hometown.  “I came to all the home games my whole life.  I was always a fan watching games and now its flipped.  I’m out there playing and the city of Cedar Falls has supported me throughout my high school career and continue to here at UNI.  I’m super blessed to have that.”

In his second season, A.J. strives to improve his game in multiple areas, coming off a career-high nine assists against UT Martin on Tuesday, Nov. 19.  The sophomore point guard looks to lead UNI with a work ethic to match his talent.

“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of about him is just how hard he works at it,” Kyle Green said.  “This is something that he’s wanted ever since he was really young.  Putting this as a priority in his life; he’s done a really good job of being disciplined with that work ethic.”

“It’s something that my parents definitely instilled in me when I was young,” A.J. said.  “My mom’s the hardest worker I know.  My dad just as well.  I know I gotta just put in the time, it always pays off and just trust the work.”

Coach Jacobson also recognizes A.J.’s innate drive to always get better, along with the special father-son bond that A.J. has with his dad.

“I continue to think it’s awesome,” Jacobson said.  “I think it’s one of the coolest things that could happen at this level for a young guy to be able to go to practice every day and have your dad there with you.  Also, for Kyle to see your son every day.”

A.J. has goals of making the NCAA Tournament alongside his dad after watching the storied Sweet 16 run growing up, but for now, the father-son duo savors the opportunity they have to be around each other every day for the next three years.

“I pinched myself the first few times,” Kyle Green said on seeing A.J. play in the McLeod Center for the first time last season.  “I really had to work hard to do my job, not just watch my son.  Very surreal.  It’s been cool.  When he had a passion for basketball and I could see that he really liked it, I was hoping that someday I’d get a chance to coach him.”

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