AJ Green reflects on time as a Panther, life in the NBA

AJ Green reflects on time as a Panther, life in the NBA

Anna Flanders /
AJ Green on basketball court with Bob Bowlsby
AJ Green is recognized during the UNI vs. Bradley home game on Feb 18, 2024
Photo Credit: Eli Hull, UNI Athletics

When AJ Green signed a two-way contract as an undrafted free agent with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022, he made history as the first Northern Iowa graduate to make it to the NBA.

“Being the first UNI Panther to play in the NBA means a lot,” said Green. “I also know that I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for all my coaches, former teammates and the city of Cedar Falls that had my back and supported me through all the ups and downs during my four years at UNI. I just hope that I was able to leave an impact on the program and can pave the way for somebody else to be the next to make it to the NBA from UNI.”

Green, a Cedar Falls native, certainly left big shoes to fill when chose to begin his professional basketball career. His 1,769 points at UNI make him the fourth all-time scoring player in program history. He earned the title of Missouri Valley Conference Play of the Year twice and ended his final season with the Panthers with the highest free throw percentage in program history (90.0%).

The shooting guard remembers his time as a Panther from 2018-22 fondly. UNI’s victory over Loyola during Green’s last home game on senior night holds a particularly special place in his heart. During that game, his 16 free throws marked a career high and allowed him to help make UNI the regular season conference champions.

AJ Green with Nick Nurse
AJ Green with fellow UNI alum and Philadelphia 76ers coach Nick Nurse on March 19, 2023
Photo Courtesy: Milwaukee Bucks

Green’s Panther pride has been a constant throughout his budding career with the NBA. While in the G-League and NBA Action, Green could often be seen wearing his UNI team shoes. Of course, the impact of his time at UNI has been evident in the way he plays the game as well. 

“I’d say one of the biggest basketball things that stuck with me from my time at UNI was to simply build the right habits and put in the time because it always pays off,” he said. “Along with just knowing basketball, all the ins and outs and how to play the game the right way, there’s so many things I learned and picked up that made me the player and person I am today.”

Despite working alongside superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Green said he doesn’t get starstruck. Instead, he focuses on finding the best way to add value to his team and learning as much as he can from his teammates.

“The NBA game is completely different due to the spacing and different rules between the two levels,” he said. “I’ve been able to find a role by always staying ready for my name to be called and accepting a role as a floor spacer as well as trying to impact the game in different ways. I want to help the team win and will do whatever they need for that to happen.”