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Utah State star Brian Green spent year coaching after returning from Mormon mission

By Tavin Stucki

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 8:00 a.m. MDT

Utah State graduate assistant Brian Green walks off the floor with the Aggies following a game between the Aggies and Colorado State at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

LOGAN — A little more than two years ago during his senior season, Brian Green became the best 3-point shooter in Utah State basketball history. A few months later, he graduated then all but fell out of contact with everyone he knew in the program.

Green left on a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where no one recognized him as the Aggies' shooting legend. Now, Green has returned to USU as a graduate assistant to help coach some of the players he once called teammates.

"It's a little different," said Aggie guard Preston Medlin. "I hadn't seen him in a jersey in a while, but definitely when you see him on the bench and see him in a suit and tie, it's a little weird."

However, wearing a suit and tie — the typical attire of Mormon missionaries — is something Green has become very comfortable with.

Green, who attended Davis High School, came to Utah State via Salt Lake Community College, where he helped the Bruins reach the finals in the NJCAA tournament. During his time with the Aggies, he shot a school-record 50 percent from the 3-point line.

After his career, Green was called to the same mission that his father, Cary Green, served in as a young man — the Peru Cusco Mission.

"He actually got to interact with people who I had interacted with, who I knew, etc.," Cary Green said. "It was really kind of a personal experience for him and myself, for him to do that."

Charla Green said her son's emails showed Brian Green was struggling in the mission field for as long as 10 months, but eventually his outlook changed so much that he even extended his service.

"He was home for one day — one day — and then school started the very next Monday," Charla Green said. "We already had his release date in July, and then he just felt like he needed to stay an extra six weeks."

Utah State associate head coach Tim Duryea said he was happy to learn of Brian Green's interest in returning to USU.

"Obviously (USU head coach Stew Morrill) wanted him back in any role we could get him back in, just because of all the intangibles he brings," Duryea said. "I think that was a mutual decision, and when he wanted to continue with school, I think that was kind of a no-brainer."

Utah State's season came to an end last week with a 73-39 loss to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas.

In addition to working with the USU scout team, Green often stayed after practice to help team members work on their games.

Most were new faces.

"There were two guys here who actually got to practice with him and see what he's all about," Medlin said. "All the coaches are still here, everybody's still here, just all the players are gone except me and Ben (Clifford)."

"There's a reason why he's back here," said Clifford, who was a junior this past season. "People want him back and he wants to be back. It makes me feel good that he wants to stay a part of the program."

Just as he faced challenges when transitioning from missionary life to returned-missionary life, Green faced challenges transitioning from player to coach.

"It's just hard because I don't compete anymore," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing that I miss, is just being able to go out and compete and bring some energy to the team. I can't really do that anymore. I try to, but I can't."

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