Kentucky and Duke have spent the past couple of years on the recruiting trail battling each other for the No. 1 spot in the rankings, and that trend is expected to carry over into the class of 2017.
So it’s no wonder both programs are now taking a long look at point guard Quade Green.
While he’s certainly a capable scorer, Green is at his best when he’s creating opportunities for others. And UK and Duke are both expecting to land plenty of talented offensive players in next year’s recruiting class.
What each of those teams will need is a point guard who likes to share, and Green fits that bill perfectly.
“What stands out about Quade is his feel for the game and his leadership and ability to run a team,” said Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. “He’s been as impressive as any point guard in the country, in terms of facilitating and distributing. He’s also a pretty competitive kid. He’s stepped into some pretty big-time environments and been pretty successful.”
Green (his first name is pronounced Qua-day) led the Nike EYBL regular season with 10.5 assists per game — a ridiculous number for AAU ball — and helped lead the PSA Cardinals to the best record in the league, even though the team’s other star player, top-five recruit Mohamed Bamba, missed the final nine games with a sprained ankle.
For the past few days, Green has been at the U.S. Olympic Training Center competing for a spot on the Team USA U18 squad that will play for a FIBA gold medal next month in Chile.
Daniels named the 5-foot-11 prospect from Philadelphia as one of the top performers in the first scrimmage of training camp Tuesday night, and he carried that high level of play into Wednesday’s practice sessions.
Bamba, still out with that sprained ankle, has been watching the scrimmages from the sidelines, and he likes what he’s seen from his AAU teammate.
“He’s great,” Bamba said. “He’s so smooth and poised. You don’t see that at this age. Part of me being out here is observing, and I think he’s really making a name for himself.
“To play with a good point guard, it takes your game to a whole new level.”
Asked to name the schools that are showing interest in his recruitment, Green went ahead and listed just about every major program in the country.
Many of those schools have extended scholarship offers since his breakout spring on the Nike circuit, but UK and Duke are not among them.
That could change in the near future.
Green has already scheduled recruiting visits to both campuses for later this month, and while he said he’s not necessarily expecting offers from UK and/or Duke, he’s definitely hoping for them.
John Calipari has extended scholarship offers to 13 uncommitted players in the class of 2017 — including point guards Trae Young and Tremont Waters — but he’s also taken a personal interest in Green, who says he talks to the UK coach “all the time,” and most recently got a phone call from Calipari on Tuesday to offer some words of encouragement before Team USA camp.
“They make pros, of course,” Green said of UK’s program. “And they have good student-athletes. When they leave for the NBA, they come back and get their degree. They get the best out of you there.”
Green also led the Nike league in steals during the regular season, and his attention to defense has been evident this week. He stays low in man-to-man sets, eyes locked in and striking as intimidating a look as a 5-11 guard can muster.
“I’ve got that dog in me,” Green said. “You’ve got to scare them sometimes.”
Green — the No. 25 player in the class of 2017, according to Scout.com — said he has no timetable for his college commitment, so UK and Duke still have some time to weigh a scholarship offer.
If Green does end up in one of those two programs — or any other with national title aspirations — Daniels says the plucky point guard will be ready to carry the load.
“No question,” he said. “He’s confident enough to do it and, most importantly, he’s got the game to do it. And I think he’s proven that every time he’s stepped on that court.
“There’s a cool, calming factor with him when he has the ball in his hands.”