Draymond Green is synonymous with Saginaw, but more accurately, he’s synonymous with Saginaw High. There’s a difference.
Compared to most high-level athletes, Green looks rather pedestrian. But put him on a basketball court, with his combination of IQ, instincts, and barely controlled passion, and he makes perfect sense.
The first time I spotted Green live was 2008. He was a pudgy teenager playing in the state basketball playoffs, trying to lead the High to a second straight state championship. The team was in the regional portion of the playoffs, and playing an amped up Flint Carman-Ainsworth team. Carman-Ainsworth had four future Division I players on its roster and was playing at home. Flint players don’t back down, and made it clear they weren’t intimidated by Green.
After Green hit a 3-pointer to open the game, C-A’s Reggie Stallings came right back down and tied the game with one of his own — and then demonstratively clapped and yelled right in Green’s face.
Green smirked, a confident look that we’d see for years to come as he matured into one of the greatest players in Michigan State basketball history and a NBA All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year, and multi-time champion.
Green put Carman-Ainsworth away, using his inside-outside game to score 28 points, throwing his body around to grab 11 rebounds, and flash the defense that would later make him one of professional basketball’s most unique and versatile defenders with three blocks.
Green is the greatest NBA player the city has ever produced, but not the only one — Darvin Ham won a championship with the Detroit Pistons (and had a memorable backboard shattering dunk as a college player), Anthony Roberson bounced around for a few seasons, and Paul Dawkins played a season.
Saginaw is a small city with an athletic history comparable to much larger ones, and the High carries itself proudly as a centerpiece of that legacy — best described by former basketball coach Lou Dawkins in a segment with reporter Ryan Slocum. Dawkins, simply, called the High, “The most powerful high school in America.”
Hoop Factories is semi-recurring ramblings about the places where basketball stars and dreamers got their start