Quade Green admits that he was looking for something and that quest led him to the Huskies.
In many ways, the Kentucky transfer was searching for someone to believe in him again like coach Mike Hopkins, the former Syracuse assistant, who recruited the 6-foot point guard long before he became a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit at Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia.
“He always cared for people’s family and yourself and being a better person off the court, really,” Green said about Hopkins. “That’s one thing I needed help in.”
But in the most basic way, Green was simply searching for a place to play basketball.
“You guys needed a point guard so why not?” he said when asked why he chose Washington. “It fits for me.”
Still, probe a little deeper and it becomes clear Green is still looking for his former self, that dynamic playmaker who was ESPN’s fifth-ranked point guard and the No. 24 prospect overall coming out of high school in 2017.
The search to regain what he lost at Kentucky is the reason why Green returns to Alaska Airlines Arena at 3 o’clock in the morning to get in a shooting session.
It’s why he worked 24/7 this summer to recover from a stress fracture in his foot that forced him to miss a month of practice.
And it explains why Green chose No. 55 instead of No. 0 that he wore at Kentucky.
“That was my number when I first started playing basketball,” said Green, who wore No. 1 in high school. “That’s one of the ways of … telling me I’ve got to get back to myself, really. That’s basically what it is.
“Getting in the grind mode, that extra grind that you’ve been through coming up out of Philadelphia. And being that humble and gritty kid that you’ve always been.”
No. 25 Washington (3-1), which plays Montana (1-3) at 8 p.m. Friday at Alaska Airlines Arena, desperately needs Green to return to form if the Huskies hope to fulfill lofty preseason expectations.
The pieces are in place for a second straight Pac-12 regular-season title and a return to the NCAA tournament.
UW has a dominant low-post performer (Isaiah Stewart), a highflying guard (Nahziah Carter), a do-everything phenom (Jaden McDaniels), a veteran defender (Hameir Wright) and a deep bench of tall, long-limbed reserves.
Green, who received NCAA approval to play seven days before the season opener, is possibly the last piece to the Huskies’ championship puzzle. (He would have had to wait until Dec. 17 for his first game if not for the NCAA waiver.)
Hopkins needed a point guard who could hit three-pointers and run his offense and Green, who shot 42.3% behind the arc at Kentucky, needed a second chance to “get it right this time.”
“He’s a vocal guy and he’ll talk to you,” Hopkins said. “I think the biggest thing I love about him is, I love how he passes the ball. There are a lot of guys that can do that, and there’s the guys that have the action. I love how he pushes it and sprints through and he plays hard and you see his work ethic.
“A lot of it is by example in a lot of ways. I think his basketball character is incredible. (He) makes others around him better, wants to lead the team in assists, pushing the ball up. I think those are all things infectious, and that’s what we’re preaching as a coaching staff. He’s been an extension of us, which has been great.”
Well, not exactly great.
Washington’s offense ranks last in the Pac-12 in scoring (64.3) and 11th in the conference in turnovers per game (14.5) and three-point shooting (30.3%) — two areas in which Green has struggled.
He converted just 1 of 7 shots and had three turnovers, which marred a UW debut that included nine assists in the season-opening 67-64 win over Baylor.
Over the next two games Green continued to have problems with an erratic jumper and turnovers while averaging 4.5 assists.
In his last outing, Green went 5 for 5 from the field for 11 points in Tuesday’s 72-53 win over Maine. He also had four rebounds, three steals, two assists and one turnover in 23 minutes.
“The last game, he was as efficient as you could possibly be,” Hopkins said. “He took the right shots. He pushed the ball in transition. He found people.
“I thought he was really, really good. He was in the right spots. He was active. He’s just going to keep getting better and better. But it takes time with that, there’s no getting around that.”
Hopkins is being patient with Green, knowing there’s a delicate transition period with every transfer.
Green didn’t delve into what went wrong at Kentucky, where he started 13 of the first 15 games of his collegiate career before moving to the bench midseason. He averaged 9.3 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 rebounds as a freshman.
After nine games as a reserve, Green transferred and found a new home nearly 2,500 miles west in Seattle.
“When I first got here I didn’t know it rained a lot,” he said. “It’s like a beautiful rain type of thing and that’s kind of weird. In Philly, when it rains, it rains hard. Thunder.”
Green admits he’s also rediscovering confidence in himself — and his jump shot — thanks to his new team and those late-night workouts.
“Just had to get back to myself,” he said. “I think I found that when I came here.”