John Clay

Kentucky guard Quade Green laughs at the rumors, welcomes the competition

Did Kentucky guard Quade Green consider transferring?

There was speculation that Kentucky guard Quade Green might transfer rather than return for his sophomore season. Green addressed those rumors with the media on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
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There was speculation that Kentucky guard Quade Green might transfer rather than return for his sophomore season. Green addressed those rumors with the media on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Fake news, Quade Green said.

OK, that's not exactly what he said, though the message was the same. The subject was those off-season rumors that the Kentucky guard had considered transferring before ultimately deciding to return for his sophomore season.

True?

"No, not at all," Green said Thursday during a media opportunity with Coach John Calipari's four returning players. "That was just rumors."

Never crossed your mind?

"Never crossed my mind," Green said.

What about the report that you were going back home to Philadelphia to play at LaSalle?

"I actually laughed at that one," Green said. "That was hilarious."

So let's take the other side of the coin. Why not transfer? Expected to be Kentucky's starting point guard last year, Green was moved off the ball by the emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. A likely NBA Draft lottery pick, SGA is gone. Replacements are coming, however. Guards. Talented guards.

"That don't matter to me," Green said. "That's why you come to Kentucky, to be competitive and compete."

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Quade Green said during a UK media availability on Thursday that his confidence heading into this season is at "a whole new level." Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Bring it on. After all, Rivals ranked Green as the 22nd-best player in the class of 2017 coming out of high school. His freshman season, he averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 assists and 25.6 minutes per game. He shot 45.1 percent from the floor, 80.8 percent from the foul line and 37.6 percent from three-point range.

His fourth collegiate game, he scored a season-high 21 points against East Tennessee. His SEC high came Feb. 28 against Ole Miss when he scored 18 points. In the postseason, however, he made just three of 15 three-point shots.

He can do better. He knows he can do better. His first season had its share of obstacles. Non-conference, he suffered an eye injury that forced him to wear some pretty cool protective glasses but probably hindered his progress. Later on, a back injury caused him to miss three games.

"I've been through it," he said Thursday. "The worst of the worst."

Worst of the worst? Sounds bad. How so? When was the worst of the worst?

"Not a particular moment," he said. "You know, just the ups and downs of life."

One thing Green didn't lack last year was confidence. He doesn't mind talking. He's a fun listen. Once or twice he got out over his skis. Before UK's March game at Florida, Green said the Cats "gotta go to Florida and spank them." Instead, the Cats got spanked. Florida rolled 80-67. Live and learn.

"I'm more happy this year," he said Thursday. "I got my confidence back. Well, not back, but to a whole new level."

He'll be pushed. He knows that. Jemarl Baker, the California sharpshooter who missed his freshman season after two knee surgeries, is now healthy. He's been in the system. He will add a needed perimeter threat to the mix.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari took his players to see Triple Crown winner Justify on Wednesday at Churchill Downs in Louisville. What did the players think of the champion racehorse?

Then there's the new blood: Immanuel Quickley, point guard, ranked 21st overall by 247Sports; Tyler Herro, shooting guard, ranked 36th by 247Sports; Ashton Hagans, point guard, ranked eighth by 247Sports for the class of 2019 who re-classified to 2018 and will play this season.

"Everybody on this team can fill it up from all three levels," Green said. "Even PJ (Washington), he's been working on his jump shot."

So who'll be the team's best shooter?

"We're gonna see," Green said with a grin that said, without saying — watch me.

What will Green's role be on this team? Point guard? Shooting guard? Both?

"Combo guard," Green said. "I'm going be wherever they need me to be. If they need me at four (power forward), I'm strong enough to play four. If they want me at five (center), I'll play five."

Back to those transfer rumors. If Green heard them, he said he paid them little attention. Just the media, he said. And if the rumors were frustrating, they were more so to his family than him.

"My family was calling me, but it wasn't frustrating to me," he said. "I knew what was happening."

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