Bring on the bigger spotlight. Wendell Green Jr. is ready for it.
After shining off the bench last season, WGJ is about to be PG1 on the Plains. And he's spent an entire offseason growing into that role for the Tigers.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (@AuburnMBB/Twitter)
BIRMINGHAM — Wendell Green Jr. has grown this offseason.
Not physically, that is. The junior point guard is still listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds — the same measurements he was last year. He’s still the same size that caused plenty of high-major teams to overlook him, both in high school and in the portal, and puts a permanent chip on his shoulder.
But Green isn’t the same starry-eyed mid-major transfer who recalled seeing a sellout crowd of 21,678 fans at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena in February and going, “Wow, this is crazy.”
“Now, I'm more poised,” Green said Wednesday afternoon at SEC Media Days. “I'm more relaxed. In every situation, I just feel like I'm more relaxed.
“I'm more relaxed sitting up here right now,” Green said, smiling and patting the interview table.
Green was front and center Wednesday afternoon as one of the two player representatives Bruce Pearl brought with him to Birmingham for the return of the conference’s annual media event. (Jaylin Williams was the other one, a late replacement for K.D. Johnson as he deals with a viral eye infection.)
Last year, Green was soaking it all in as the former overlooked recruit who went from a standout season at Eastern Kentucky in the Ohio Valley Conference — where he narrowly lost the Freshman of the Year honor to new Auburn transfer center Johni Broome — to a key player on an SEC championship squad.
Despite finishing third on the team in minutes played (26.4) behind Johnson and National Freshman of the Year winner Jabari Smith, Green only started in five games last season for the Tigers. Pearl opted to start an older transfer in Jasper at the 1, although Green was almost always in the closing lineup for the Tigers.
But don’t expect Green to come off the bench for Auburn in his second season on the Plains.
“I feel like my role is the starting point guard, you know?” Green said Wednesday. “I feel like I've earned that role. I work hard. I'm leading guys. I'm a leader on this team. I feel like I'm a vet. A lot of guys come to me for questions on plays or anything, off-the-court stuff. I feel like that's kind of my role now.”
And you aren’t likely to hear any arguments from Pearl on that.