Lake Clifton's Derrick Green is fouled by Allegany's Carson Imes during a Class 1A state semifinal at the Xfinity Center.
Lake Clifton's Derrick Green is fouled by Allegany's Carson Imes during a Class 1A state semifinal at the Xfinity Center. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Derrick Green was a full academic qualifier coming out of Lake Clifton in 2015, but decided to pass on Division II offers in favor of a post-grad year that he hoped would net him more Division I looks.

Mission accomplished. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound combo guard committed to Jacksonville State this week.

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"I had the opportunity and just wanted to make my decision," Green said Thursday. "I prepped a year and it paid off. Now I'm going to college [and] just got to get refocused and get ready to play Division I basketball."

As a senior, Green was an explosive scorer for Lake Clifton, leading the Lakers to a runner-up finish in the Class 1A state playoffs. He scored a game-high 18 points in the championship-game loss to New Town.

Though his academics were solid, Green felt his exposure to college coaches was a bit lacking. So he signed on with Believe Prep in Rock Hill, S.C., and played the spring and summer AAU sessions with Cecil Kirk.

"He is a great scoring machine because he's athletic," said Cecil Kirk coach Anthony Lewis. "He shoots the basketball, he's good beyond the arc, he's a tough defender. He does all the little things you need to do. His athleticism is unbelievable."

Green averaged around 13 points and seven rebounds at Believe Prep, and, according to Lewis, "had some 20-plus [scoring] nights when he needed to have them."

In March, colleges really started to take note of Green's play. Central Connecticut State, Delaware, Norfolk State and Quinnipiac were among the DI programs to reach out to him. It took some time, however, for the Jacksonville State interest to develop.

On March 18, Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper – who had led the Hilltoppers to two NCAA tournaments in his five years there – resigned from his position. Less than three weeks later, Harper was hired to coach Jacksonville State.

"It's going to be fresh," Green said of the new JSU coaching staff. "They told me to come in and play tough and be an everyday guy and work hard."

Said Lewis: "They wanted to bring in a combo guard. [Green] is a 2-1 type of kid. They've got a good shot a winning [the Ohio Valley] Conference."

Green will be the second player with Baltimore ties on JSU's 2016-17 roster. Jared Hamilton, a 2014 St. Frances graduate, started all 30 games for the Gamecocks as a freshman, averaging 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Green hasn't visited Jacksonville State's campus yet, but he'll do so soon. He's looking forward to making an immediate impact for a Gamecocks squad that finished 8-23 this past season.

"I'm excited to start my career," Green said. "Just watching March Madness got me excited, [thinking about] going to the tournament and playing on TV. … I just want to get there and bring energy to the team."

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