By LARRY VAUGHT
First his mother told Lexington Herald-Leader basketball writer Jerry Tipton that her son, Quade Green, would return to Kentucky next season.
Then Green — in his own playful way — sort of confirmed that in a video for the CATSPY awards show where walk-on guard Jonny David joked he was declaring for the NBA draft.
Green walked behind David and said, “You know I’m coming coming back next year? You’re going to be my starting shooting guard. You’re leaving me?”
Now does this lock Green into Kentucky next year? Absolutely not. He could still have a change of heart in the next three months or so, but it sure seems he will stay after transfer rumors spread for several weeks.
Green averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game last year and shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range. He was Kentucky’s starting point guard early in the season before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took over that spot.
Green often played the two guard late in the season and became a solid outside threat. He also dramatically improved his defense.
With Gilgeous-Alexander leaving for the NBA, there’s still no guarantee about Green’s playing time next year. Calipari has signed guards Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro. Ashton Hagans has verbally committed to UK and could re-classify into the 2018 class. Both Quickly and Hagans are point guards. UK will also return guard Jemarl Baker, who missed last season with a knee injury.
With Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo leaving for the NBA and Sacha Killeya-Jones transferring, Green’s return is a big plus for leadership reasons along with the experience he brings.
Three more Cats — P.J. Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt — have put their names into the draft but have not hired an agent meaning any or all could return to UK.
If Washington would come back and bring his toughness, leadership and experience to go with Green’s return it would be huge for UK. It would be nice to have Vanderbilt and Gabriel also back, but with Green, Washington and Nick Richards back to go with players Calipari has signed — and may still add — one would have to like UK’s roster a lot for next year.