ROSEMONT, Ill. – Devonte Green voted for everyone.
On his anonymous ballot for team captain, Green didn’t want to vote for himself, and he trusted his teammates equally as leaders. He couldn’t pick just one person.
But everyone voted for him.
The senior was announced as a captain in a team meeting Monday, nine months after he was suspended from the team.
That didn’t matter to Green’s teammates. He had earned back their trust. He was happy his teammates saw him as a leader.
“I think just working hard, leading by example. Every day in practice just giving it all I’ve got,” Green said of earning respect from his teammates.
In the midst of the low point of his season, Green talked to his brother, two-time NBA champion Danny Green.
“He would just tell me to stay with it, stick it through," Green said. "Everybody’s journey and path is different, and he’s a prime example of that."
Green’s head coach, Archie Miller, saw the suspension instead as a chance for him to mature as a player and as a leader. When he came back, Green was one of IU’s most prolific offensive players, nearly carrying IU back to NCAA Tournament contention.
“Sometimes opportunities hit you in the face to grow up,” Miller said. “Hopefully he’s grown up.”
Miller, wearing a red suit jacket and a white shirt with red candy stripes inside the collar, has seen a different Green since the suspension. It’s a Green who's been more committed to his team than ever before. Miller saw it through the summer and into the fall.
For Miller, Green has never had an issue with his drive to play, Green practices for as long as Miller lets him. Green’s new task is to learn how to be a leader.
“I think now more so than anything he’s got to find a way to give back to his teammates,” Miller said. “He’s got to find a way. I think his teammates have shown their respect for his game and the way that he’s done things and his talent. Now he’s got to give back to them with giving a little bit more of himself.”
Green is looking to the example set by his former teammates, the leaders he looked to like forward Juwan Morgan in years past. He’s giving his teammates small lessons throughout the offseason and into the fall as Green tries to lead the team back to the NCAA Tournament, which the senior has never played in.
But he’s still learning how to lead.
That’s why Green still looks to former upperclassmen like Morgan to teach him how to be a leader, while immediately putting that into action. He knows the young players are going to look up to him as the captain. He plans to lead by example, an example he’s implemented after his suspension provided the change Miller hoped it would.
“It’s been a rough couple of years, I’ve been unsure of myself at times,” Green said. “I think recently I’ve come to be at peace with my game and myself and the work."
“It’s easy to lose confidence, especially in your early years, if you have bad games or bad stretches or games where you don’t play as much, it’s easy to lose confidence," He said "I think I’ve just matured recently and realized the position I’m in and just found peace with that.”
Green learned to keep moving on, taking losses as lessons. He feels that’s made him a better person. By the end of last sesaon, he learned how he can best utilize his abilities.
The desire to lead by example extends beyond Green’s work ethic in practice to in the games themselves. Miller dubbed Green as IU’s most talented offensive player. It’s no surprise someone of that ability simultaneously being regarded as a leader will be the one his teammates consistently look for on the court.
There is no clear top scoring option for IU the way Morgan or Romeo Langford were at the onset of last season, and that’s a role Green finds himself possibly stepping into.
“I learned if I stay aggressive and let the game come to me, I don’t need to force anything,” Green said. “It’s easier to make reads that way. I’m not trying to make any home run plays or anything. I’m just playing the game.”
Green’s run of success at the end of last season and the work he put in this summer gave him confidence heading into the upcoming season.
The trust and respect he’s earned from his teammates has does the same.