The 6-foot-10 small forward and Baltimore native was selected 28th by the Memphis Grizzlies last night in the first round of the NBA draft. Greene, who played his high school ball at Towson Catholic, was projected to go between the 13th and 20th pick.
"It was definitely tough, seeing teams that told you, 'If you're there we're going to pick you,' " Greene said. "It feels good to finally be drafted and to finally have that weight off your shoulders and get back to work."
Family and friends gathered at AMF Pikesville Lanes in anticipation of Greene's name being called. Greene showed up at 10:27 p.m., after he had been selected, in a cream-white jacket, white dress shirt and black pants, with shining studded earrings. He was greeted with hugs, kisses and pictures.
Greene, 20, will make $809,400 in his first year and the first two years of his contract are guaranteed. He enters the NBA after playing one season with Syracuse, where he led the team in scoring with 17.7 points a game, fourth in the Big East. He averaged 7.2 rebounds and led the team in blocks, with 1.6 a game.
"It feels great, excellent, the wait is over with," said Donald Greene, Donte's father. "Now I know how some families feel by going through the draft. I'm glad it's over with."
Greene wasn't the only player with local connections to be drafted last night.
Joey Dorsey, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Baltimore and Douglass High, was selected 33rd in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers. Dorsey, 24, a second-team All-Conference USA selection for Memphis last season, is the all-time rebounding leader in Conference USA history with 1,209.
At the end of the round, Maryland forward James Gist was selected 57th by the San Antonio Spurs. Gist, 6-9, averaged 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds last season. Gist, 21, becomes the first Terp drafted by the Spurs since Tony Massenburg in 1990.
Dorsey's Memphis team led the way last night. The Tigers' Derrick Rose was the first selection by the Chicago Bulls. Kansas State's Michael Beasley went No. 2 to the Miami Heat, followed by USC's O.J. Mayo going to the Minnesota Timberwolves, UCLA's Russell Westbrook going to the Seattle Supersonics and UCLA's Kevin Love rounding out the top five, going to the Grizzlies.
Mayo was traded to the Grizzlies for Love in an eight-player trade after the draft concluded, the Associated Press reported, citing a source who spoke on the condition on anonymity. The Timberwolves also received shooter Mike Miller and retreads Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins from Memphis for the draft rights to Mayo, forward Antoine Walker and guards Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner.
In another trade, Arizona's Jerryd Bayless was drafted 11th by the Indiana Pacers and his rights were dealt to Portland with Ike Diogu for the rights to Kansas' Brandon Rush - who was picked 13th - Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts. Rush's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told the AP about the deal shortly after Rush was taken. Kansas' Darrell Arthur, who was selected 27th by the New Orleans Hornets, was also traded to Portland.
The Pacers had a proposed trade with the Toronto Raptors. Indiana would send six-time All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, the 17th pick (Georgetown's Roy Hibbert) and player to be determined.
For their first pick, at No. 18 overall, the Washington Wizards chose Nevada center JaVale McGee, who entered the draft after his sophomore year. He ended his college career as the fourth all-time leader in blocked shots in school history.
Some believed Greene should have stayed in college longer than one season. Because of his limited experience, it might take time for him to have an impact in the NBA.
"I wouldn't expect him to make an impact, but I would never project a rookie to make an impact," said David Thorpe, an NBA analyst for ESPN.com. "With his talent level, it's certainly possible for him to make an impact at the end of the year, but if he didn't, it wouldn't be surprise. I wouldn't expect to see him make an impact until his second season."
Greene's has tons of potential, and he should eventually become a successful player in the league, league analysts said.
"He's a guy with a pretty good feel for his shooting and who's not afraid to launch them," Thorpe said. "He has got great size for a small forward and can find his spots on the floor, and he has the size to play defense and attack the glass as a rebounder. At worst, he can always be a long-range shooter for somebody, and there's not much of a downside on him from that perspective."
The day that Greene had been waiting for his whole life finally came. The fact that he got to cherish it with those that loved him made it even better.
"This is everybody that supported me and I came a long ways," Greene said. "It's definitely a blessing."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.