Once stricken by shyness and injury, Storm veteran Phil Greene is finally comfortable and healthy

USA TODAY Sports

Greene enters his junior season with St. John's in 2013-14, ready to contribute in a big way.

Phil Greene IV is a veteran.

A piece of you wants to ask: "Where has the time gone?" The St. John's guard out of Chicago seems distantly removed from his first days under Steve Lavin, coming up with D`Angelo Harrison, Moe Harkless and Sir`Dominic Pointer, the less-hyped member of the recruiting class who has logged heavy minutes just the same.

You could also be forgiven for thinking that Greene's tenure at St. John's has been longer than it actually is.

He has already logged over 2,100 minutes wearing a Red Storm uniform. He's seen everything in an action-packed two years from being a central figure in a flurry of wins and losses, to his head coach being diagnosed with cancer, to a number of teammates transferring or entering the NBA.

Yet as so many things have transpired around him, Greene has always kept on with his business. There have been times when people have given him attention, and others when they haven't. Greene has always been quiet in nature, keeping his answers and emotions to a minimum.

Now, two years after Greene joined the Johnnies, two years since he unexpectedly dropped 20 points in the team's first exhibition game in 2011, the guard has undergone a transformation. As we've harped on Harkless' decision to go pro and Harrison's suspension, Greene's development - not only as a player, but as a person - has been occurring right before our eyes.

As Greene discussed the upcoming season with reporters at St. John's annual media day on Thursday, something seemed different. Something felt like it had clicked, almost in the same way has it feels like it has for Greene. After hearing him go through the motions for a minute, or maybe two, I said something to him that I never have and never expected to.

He's actually comfortable.

"I am more comfortable than how I was in the past," Greene said. "I love it here. I love being at St. John's and in New York. I feel like I've gotten older."

Lavin has said that he has always wanted a healthy mix of the incredibly talented players - those who may be candidates to leave early - and the four-year players who help you sustain a program. Greene falls into the second category, which has allowed everyone around him to watch him grow.

"Phil is absolutely killing it this year. His progression - he's gone from the freshman that didn't want to talk to being maybe the loudest person in the locker room," said Harrison, who has shared the back court with Greene for two seasons. "Look, he has a smile on his face today."

If you look at Greene's statistics from last season, you'll find that he improved in almost every major category. He became a better player as a sophomore, despite having to battle a season-long hip injury that drastically inhibited his explosiveness. He underwent successful surgery to repair the partial tear of his hip labrum this offseason, and elected to rest it during the team's trip to Europe.

"[My hip] feels great. I'm not feeling any pain, so everything is better," Greene said. "Sometimes it would hurt whenever I elevated or lifted [my body]. But now I'm totally pain-free."

As last season progressed, Greene's injury deteriorated the quality of his play. Now that he is fully healthy, Greene will be able to contribute on a high level in Lavin's deep and talented back court.

Only this time around, he'll be doing it with a smile on his face.

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