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Jaden Ivey says Jalen Green was his toughest player to guard

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When the 2021-22 regular season ended in April for the Houston Rockets, rookie guard Jalen Green was asked about his initial impressions of the 2022 NBA draft class. One of the three players he mentioned was Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, since Green played against Ivey in high school.

It appears those meetings left quite an impression on Ivey, too. In a recent “film session” interview with ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, Ivey was asked to name the toughest player he ever had to defend in his career.

Ivey responded:

I would say Jalen Green. Just his athleticism and his height, and the way he can shoot the ball. I think he’s just an amazing talent, and he’s one of the best guards I’ve ever faced in my lifetime.

Ivey spent two seasons playing in the Big Ten Conference, which is often regarded as the NCAA’s best for college basketball. Thus, it’s especially high praise for Green, whose previous battles with Ivey came when both were on the high-school circuit as part of the Class of 2020.

Green then went with the NBA’s professional pathway program and played one prep year with the G League Ignite, while Ivey went to Purdue and improved his draft stock after an elite sophomore season.

With Green’s Rockets picking at No. 3 overall in the 2022 first round, it’s conceivable that he and Ivey could join forces to create one of the NBA’s most explosive backcourts. Recently, a report indicated that Houston was intrigued by Ivey and considering him for the pick.

Most reports, however, are still identifying Duke forward Paolo Banchero as the probable pick. In that scenario, Ivey and Green could resume the battles from their high school days as opponents. While those would be intense, it’s clear that it all originates from a place of mutual respect.

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