MANILA, Philippines -- Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso gave Jalen Green an enormous compliment when he compared the young guard to the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
In a discussion with Nikko Ramos and coach Tim Cone aired on the NBA Philippines Facebook page, Cariaso said that Green "reminds me of that young Kobe a little bit, where he can do everything."
Cariaso had an opportunity to watch Green in person last year, when he played for Team FilAm Sports in the NBTC Tournament. The five-star recruit, who is of Filipino descent, impressed his peers and the coaches in attendance with his athleticism and skill.
"This kid is an athlete," said Cariaso. "At his age level, he is really at the elite level among his peers."
This is one of the reasons that Cariaso is in full support of Green's decision to play in the NBA G League instead of going to a Division 1 school. The 18-year-old made headlines when he opted to take part in the G League's professional pathway program instead of playing collegiate basketball in the NCAA.
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In the G League, he will get elite training both on and off the court as the program intends to prepare him for the NBA. Together with his teammates in the select team, they will play against other G League squads, which should get them ready for the physicality and pace of the NBA game.
Green was later joined by other top recruits, including homegrown Filipino center Kai Sotto.
"You know that (Green is) not gonna learn anything with his current status if he stays where he is, playing with the same guys. His skill set is already that good," Cariaso said. "He needs to kind of up the level to make his game improve also."
"So I kinda see him as that young Kobe, that young (Kevin) Garnett a little bit, where the talent level is there," added the coach, referring to two players who famously made the jump from high school straight to the NBA.
"It's really now about just growth, and improving in every aspect."
As early as now, Green is being touted as a potential high lottery pick -- even possibly the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Rookie Draft.
And while he only got a glimpse of Green during his brief time in Manila, Cariaso has no doubt that the young guard has the talent to make it happen.
"He's athletic, he can shoot, he's a defender. He has energy, non-stop," said Cariaso. "Seems like he's coachable. I know he's still young so he's a little emotional when he was here."
"But you know, no question that this kid can play."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).