'Her best is yet to come': How Madison Greene became a reliable point guard for Ohio State
Madison Greene has improved to 13.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. The sophomore guard has yet to realize her full potential.
Success and winning have been constants in Madison Greene's life.
A starter from day one on her high school basketball team at Pickerington Central, Greene led the Tigers to a state championship and a runner-up finish in 2018 and '19 before enrolling at Ohio State after initially committing to Penn State.
She wasn't expected to have an impact so quickly, but Greene has been an essential part of three top-15 wins this season and has established herself as a potential star in the conference.
“I've always believed that she was kind of built for those moments and the big stage,” said Johnathan Hedgepeth, her high school coach. “Her mind was trained not to lose in anything."
Greene has asserted herself as the primary ball-handler and a reliable scorer in her second season, though she is quick to acknowledge there are areas where she can improve her game.
The Buckeyes (12-3, 8-3) have slipped two games off the pace for a Big Ten regular-season title, but Greene has clearly become a key piece for a team with aspirations of making a deep NCAA Tournament run next season, when its entire starting lineup and all but one player on the roster are expected to return.
"We really believe her best is yet to come,” said Tony Greene, her father. “It really is yet to come."
Madison Greene's career began at Pickerington Central
When he began coaching her, in 2014, Hedgepeth noticed a competitive drive in Greene that was different for other players.
After a two-plus-hour practice or open gym session, Greene sometimes would stay late and play against the boys team in their open gym. And she realized long ago that scoring is only one part of basketball success.
"She plays with the same effort and passion on the defensive end as she plays with on the offensive end,” Hedgepeth said. “That's what really defines her."
Throughout her career, Tony Greene has pushed his daughter to compete against the best talent. At the same school with Division I players including Jeremiah Francis (New Mexico) and Ibi Watson (Dayton), Tony Greene would pull them into playing Madison one-on-one.
"I know she can find the most competition out of a taller, stronger, more experienced person,” Tony Greene said. "I wanted her to be able to play position-less basketball.”
Madison took the matchups in stride.
“I've actually beaten a lot of them,” she said. “I feel like playing against boys has really helped me with my speed and strength and always staying motivated."
Madison Greene's rise to starter at Ohio State
Greene began her career at Ohio State coming off the bench, but took over as the primary point guard halfway through last season. The Buckeyes surged to the Big Ten tournament title game and would have made the NCAA Tournament if it hadn't been canceled by the coronavirus.
With guards Kierstan Bell and Janai Crooms deciding to transfer in the offseason, Greene was left to fill the void. More would be demanded of her, both as a scorer and a leader.
A couple of months after the tournament was canceled, Greene and her father began working for the upcoming season. They used the track at Gahanna West middle school, reserved time at a gym in Blacklick at night and called a friend down the road in Baltimore who had a private gym.
During the summer, when Ohio State allowed players to work out at team facilities, Greene spent hours in the gym with fellow sophomore Jacy Sheldon before spending more time at another gym with her father.
“I was not expecting to come in (to Ohio State) and make the impact that I did, but I credit my dad a lot for keeping me in the gym,” Madison Greene said. “I feel like he really helped me develop my game and develop that mindset to work hard every day and do my best and make an impact for the team.”
Greene has improved from 7.7 to 13.4 points per game, and also averages 3.5 rebounds, up from 2.1 in 2019-20. She also has a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks sixth-best in the Big Ten.
However, there are still inconsistencies in her game-to-game performance that she'd like to iron out. She scored 24 points in a win against a top-10 Maryland team, then made only 3 of 19 field-goal attempts the next two games.
“She's continuing to evolve and get better on both ends of the floor, so I'm really happy with where she is right now,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “I also know that she's going to stay relentless about continuing to improve.”
A Big Ten championship may prove out of reach this season. Greene's progress from year two to year three will be a factor in what Ohio State can achieve in the near future.
"I just feel like if we continue to do what we're doing and stay together and continue to make each other better," Greene said, "I'm just really excited for what the future will hold for us."