‘Anybody can start’: Quade Green on the depth of this UK team
The announcement Wednesday of Quade Green transferring came four days after one of Kentucky’s worst three-point shooting games in an early season marked by less-than-stellar marksmanship from distance.
Is the loss of one of UK’s better perimeter shooters cause for concern? Maybe. But former Kentucky standout Rex Chapman saw no reason for panic.
“I kind of look at it on the flip side,” he said. “Quade is really one of the best shooters on the team. And he’s proven in game action last year. . . .
“Maybe our young guys may be looking over at the bench, maybe wondering, ‘Gosh, there’s a shooter over there in Quade.’ Maybe that kind of made guys tight. Not having that other body there I think can free guys’ minds a little bit. ‘Hey, I can miss a couple shots. I’m still not coming out.’ It can work both ways.”
Through games on Tuesday, Kentucky ranked No. 323 nationally in three-point baskets per game (5.6). UK, which made five of 20 shots from beyond the arc against Seton Hall, ranked No. 196 in three-point accuracy (34 percent).
Green will leave Kentucky having made 11 of 26 three-point attempts this season. Only Tyler Herro has made more with 12. Green’s 42.3-percent accuracy ranked third on UK’s team. Only Reid Travis (.571 on 4-of-7 shooting) and PJ Washington (.533 on 8-of-15) had shot better from three-point distance.
“It’s not helpful,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said of Green’s transfer, “but it’s not fatal either.”
Although Kentucky does not depend on three-point shooting, Bilas suggested it should not be dismissed.
“It’s really important because it opens the floor up,” he said. “Teams are going to pack it in till you do make threes.”
The Seton Hall game seemed to serve as an example. With Washington productive in the post, the Pirates did not pay a heavy price for resorting to double teams.
Three-point misses make it harder for Kentucky to exploit its strength as a post-up team, Bilas said.
Chapman suggested Green and Kentucky can benefit from the transfer. Green gets a fresh start. A McDonald’s All-American and five-star prospect out of Philadelphia, he began his freshman season of 2017-18 as UK’s starting point guard. He started eight of the first nine games, and 13 of the first 15.
Thereafter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became UK’s point guard with Green moving to shooting guard.
Green reportedly considered transferring this past summer. He denied the report. “Never crossed my mind,” he said in June.
At that time, Green welcomed the addition of a new set of highly regarded point guards: Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans. “That’s why you come to Kentucky,” he said. “To be competitive and compete.”
Green’s minutes and production diminished in recent games. He played only 10 minutes against Seton Hall. He had two points and three turnovers. Against UNC Greensboro a week earlier, he played a career-low eight minutes.
His averages in minutes and points this season compared to his freshman season have diminished: 25.6 to 17.8 in minutes, 9.3 to 8.0 in points.
“When you have super talent,” Bilas said of UK’s roster, “there’s not enough minutes to go around.”
Chapman said Green’s departure can alleviate “rotation issues.” Green leaving presents an opportunity for a Cat who has played only one minute for UK.
“We’ll see if Jemarl Baker can carve out some minutes . . . ,” Chapman said. “The guy I’m looking to see, and really who the spotlight is on is Jemarl. If he’s healthy, there can be no more excuses as there are minutes there to be had.”
In a news release, Green said it was a difficult decision to leave “and one I didn’t take lightly. . . . I just felt like it was best that I explore other opportunities for my athletic and academic future.”
Green averaged 9.0 points and 2.6 assists this season.
UK Coach John Calipari saluted Green for being mature enough to talk to him about the decision.
“Quade has my full support with this decision,” Calipari said in the news release. “We haven’t had many kids leave, but when we do, we always support them, and in just about every case, stay in touch with each other. I hope that will be the case with Quade.”
Other players who have transferred to other schools in Calipari’s 10 seasons as UK coach are Darnell Dodson, Stacey Poole, Ryan Harrow, Kyle Wiltjer, Charles Matthews, Marcus Lee and Sacha Killeya-Jones.
Utah at No. 19 Kentucky
When: 5 p.m. Saturday