Don’t pencil him into the lineup for 2018-2019 just yet, but Quade Green’s Neumann-Goretti High School coach, Carl Arrigale, believes he will be back for next season.
And before you start saying “Well, where would he go?” just wait. We know that Green isn’t projected on 2018 NBA Draft boards and transferring wouldn’t seem to make sense, but this is Kentucky basketball with John Calipari as the head coach. Strange things can happen.
“Listen, he didn’t go to UK because he liked horses and bluegrass,” Arrigale told Kentucky Sports Radio. “Things were tough but he can handle that. It was an adjustment but no play coming in is going to scare him away. No one will break him and he’s not going to run from anything.”
UK will bring in guards Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro in the class of 2018. Keldon Johnson is considered a wing and shouldn’t hurt Green’s playing time for next season.
But that may not be it for next season. UK also leads for 2019 guard Ashton Hagans but it appears he will reclassify and play college basketball next season.
“He’s never going to run from anything,” Arrigale said. “I can’t imagine he’s going to come out so I can only assume he will be back from Lexington. I haven’t been able to talk with him but I know he was home last weekend but there was family stuff with Easter. I didn’t get to see him and have a long chat.”
Arrigale was fresh off winning a Pennsylvania state championship last week, something he did a couple times with Green as his point guard.
Green averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game in his first season in Lexington. Those would be phenominal for a freshmen almost anywhere else, but Green wasn’t considered one of the first three or four options for the Cats last season.
Green missed three games during the SEC play because of a back injury but also suffered an eye injury in December. Arrigale said that Green never was truly able to hit his stride because of injuries.
“I got to watch most of them but if we’re playing or practicing I’ll tape it and watch it back,” Arrigale said. “I thought his freshman year was up-and-down and his role would change. Then he’d have to adjust to a new role. I think the injury really set him back because he was starting to play well.
“That’s when Shai started to take over. Quade came back and he had a new role.”
Many expected Green to be the starter and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be the multiyear player, but as SGA continued to star Green took a step to the side.
“The team was so inconsistent,” Arrigale said. “I wasn’t on the staff so I have no idea what was going on but I’m sure it was frustrating at times. It seemed like things kept happening with injuries and it was a revolving door of guys stepping up and going down with rotations and combinations.
“I haven’t spoken with Quade about the season, not personally, but I think he did a solid job adjusting to different roles. He was pretty good but he still has ways to go. He was averaging double-figures most of the year on a young team that struggled at times and played really well at times. I really thought they were playing well enough at the end to make a serious run.”
The serious run was overly serious. UK lost in the Sweet 16 for the first time under Calipari and the upset to Kansas State denied UK a chance at another Final Four.
Green’s specialty towards the end of the season was his three-point shooting. He shot nearly 38 percent from deep and was on of UK’s most consistent shooters last season.
Sadly for the Cats his last three-point shot was way off. Late in the game against Kansas State with the Cats down two Green forced a deep three that was nowhere close.
“I knew he was going to take it,” Arrigale said. “It was such a weird game. There we no easy baskets. I saw the look in Quade’s face. He made a few early shots and I thought that he could win the game for UK because I’ve seen him in those spots. It just seemed like when the game went on he lost his focus a little bit.”
And that last possession may speak to Green’s overall season at UK.
“At times Quade just didn’t look as sure of himself,” Arrigale said. “When he was free and confident he played a lot better. At times he looked overconfident where things got in the way but I’d rather have a kid like that than one that’s afraid of everything. There were times he just looked like he was trying too hard to please. There would be times he would have a great first half but only shoot one or two in the second half. I don’t know if that was by design, if that’s on Quade or just the way UK wanted play.
Arrigale doesn’t imagine a scenario where Green isn’t back in Lexington next season. The draft may be a year or two away and Arrigale said there’s no indication Green would want to transfer.
Even if there were transfer rumblings (there aren’t), Arrigale couldn’t imagine Green sitting out a year and doing nothing but practicing.
And a sophomore Green is exactly what UK will need next season. As intriguing as other freshmen guards may be, none will have Green’s experience and him and Tyler Herro will battle for the best outside shooter on next year’s team.
“Oh, Quade had a blast,” Arrigale said speaking about Green’s first year. “He loved the guys and the coaching. Just as his old coach I just thought there was more he could give the team but he has to deal with what his coaches want him to do. I’m not criticizing anybody. I’m not at practice and I hate guys that do that stuff. I just don’t think he took enough shots when his role changed.”