Quade Green is back after a pretty solid freshman season in the Kentucky backcourt. A five-star point guard out of the hard-nosed Philadelphia high school basketball scene, Green averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 assists and had only 55 turnovers on the year, while connecting on 39 percent of his three-point shots. Most of his time was spent playing off the ball after the emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a star point guard, a role Green did not expect to take, but handled well. All in all, it was a nice season for a newcomer.
But in Green’s mind, it could’ve been better. “By my standards,” he said, “I think I just struggled my freshman year.”
So what did he do this past summer to improve for his sophomore season?
He worked his tail off, he says.
Green spent a lot of time with Rob Harris, the Cats’ strength coach, working to improve his body, mostly with core work. He has since seen an improvement in his speed, his balance, running downhill, playing through contact, his vertical and overall core strength.
The improvements came at John Calipari’s request in his postseason one-on-one with Green before summer break. Green said Calipari told him he wants to see him come back in much better shape and, “That’s what I did. I got in better shape and have way more confidence now. That’s what he wanted and that’s what I gave to him.”
The numbers from UK’s Pro Day back up Green’s talk of a transformation. Comparing this year’s measurements to last year’s, we see a 14-pound drop in Green’s weight, from 184 to 170 pounds. His body fat dropped from 10.3 to 9.45 percent and he shaved time off his shuttle and 3/4 sprint times, while adding to his vertical.
It turns out Nick Richards was serious when he said, “He’s the same Quade, just not fat,” back in August.
Green knows he had to make a change or he could get left out of the backcourt rotation, even as the only guard back who played any minutes in 2017-18. John Calipari went out and added two new five-star point guards in Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans, a five-star shooting guard in Keldon Johnson and a four-star shooting guard in Tyler Herro, plus the return of injured guard Jemarl Baker.
On paper, the new backcourt looked too crowded, which sparked rumors Green may even consider a transfer. One report out of Philadelphia said Green was looking to return home to play for LaSalle.
Green denied any transfer talk whatsoever, telling KSR, “They was false rumors. It wasn’t nothing me and my mom and Coach Cal talked about. We didn’t have that discussion at all. I wasn’t going nowhere.”
So he’s back and in the best shape of his life, and ready to lead a talented group. It’s an all out war in practice and he sees a special, energetic group around him.
“Everybody here is hyperactive, I’ll say. Everybody got energy. Everybody got an energy button in them that just — I can’t explain,” he said. “Everyday is a battle, everyday. Everybody has a tough task because everybody is good in here. Everybody, from 1 through 5, it doesn’t matter.”
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series: