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Kentucky Basketball: Why getting Quade Green to stay is so important for John Calipari

John Calipari needs Green to stay so the perception of the program doesn’t become the reality.

Kansas State v Kentucky Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When Quade Green committed to the Kentucky Wildcats in 2017, it was seen as John Calipari hedging his bets on Trae Young’s decision.

At that time, Cal desperately needed a point guard for 2017, and Young wasn’t anywhere close to committing.

Cal offered Green, a five-star point guard out of Philly that was leaning towards the Syracuse Orange. But once Calipari focused on Green, it didn’t take long for him to become a Cat.

Green wanted to be a Wildcat. He wanted to be one of the greats at Kentucky. He also was one of the most vocal recruiters for the Wildcats during the high school all-star circuit.

He began the season as the starting point guard and had exceptional games against Louisville and Virginia Tech, two of Kentucky’s biggest non-conference wins.

Things were going as planned until he injured his back and missed three SEC games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took his place as the starter and never looked back.

From that point on, it was the Shai Show, and Green was the one coming off the bench. Quade never really got his mojo back. It was clear that SGA was the better player and that the team was responding to him as the leader on the court.

Green’s stats for the season: 9.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 45% from the field, and 38% from three. Not bad for a freshman point guard, but definitely not one and done material like most Kentucky fans are used to.

With Shai going to the draft and Immanuel Quickley coming in as a freshman, it was all set up for a sophomore Quade Green leading the way in 2018.

But then, there were some surprising developments. Calipari took the commitment of 2019 point guard Ashton Hagans. The plan for Hagans is that he reclassify to 2018 and join the Cats next season. Hagans is the top-ranked point guard in 2019 and could be the top point guard in 2018 if he does reclassify.

Then, Cal started to recruit another 2019 point guard in Tyrese Maxey. He is the second-ranked point guard in 2019, and Cal is pitching that he reclassify as well.

Green, understandably so, is probably feeling like he’s being recruited over. Rumors began flying of Green mulling a transfer, and those rumors were ramped up even more with the report of Calipari preparing for life after Green and that the PG would possibly land at La Salle.

I don’t 100% trust the report because I cannot see a player of Green’s caliber going from a program like to Kentucky to a program like La Salle. But the rumor is out there, so it had to be addressed.

With Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard transferring, a Green transfer would be a devastating blow to not only the team but the perception of Kentucky Basketball.

The idea of Green transferring is so real, Calipari reportedly is meeting with him to convince him to stay and be a leader in 2018.

Calipari isn’t forcing Green to consider transferring, but the argument can be made that Cal isn’t making him feel exactly welcome.

Losing Green as a player would be bad enough, but with him transferring, the perception that Kentucky Basketball is a one-and-done factory that doesn’t cater to multi-year players will be reinforced.

This most recent team exemplifies that more than any other. Outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox, the argument for the rest of the guys to return is a strong one.

Yet, Hamidou Diallo went pro. Reports are that PJ Washington wants to go pro and may even do so even if he isn’t a first-round pick. Wenyen Gabriel will test the draft waters and may opt to play overseas.

Jarred Vanderbilt desperately wants to go, but I don’t see any way he leaves because there just isn’t enough evidence that he can produce at a professional level, not to mention he may need surgery.

If the worst-case scenario does occur and the only returning player off of last year’s team are Nick Richards and Jemarl Baker, then I think the reality of the situation is that Kentucky has been established as a program that if you are not a sure-fire first-round pick after one year, then you are considered a failure.

You will be recruited over, and better players will replace you as you wallow on the bench and watch your NBA dreams disappear. All the recruits you came in with are gone while you are stuck with teammates that get younger every year.

Do I believe this is what Calipari or Kentucky Basketball are about?

No. But maybe the players do. I know the media certainly believes this.

This is what I do believe:

I didn’t add Vanderbilt to this group because I still refuse to believe that declaring for the NBA Draft is an actual option for him.

I think the fan base is a little weary of the turnover. BBN is fine with kids going if they are first rounders, lottery picks especially, but when guys are leaving just to leave, it’s annoying. And it’s even more annoying when players transfer because they feel like they’re being pushed out.

That’s why it’s so important that Green stays. He can be an example of sustained success at Kentucky as a college player like Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Darius Miller.

But lately, there have been too many good players leave because things weren’t working out like they thought it would at UK. I don’t want Green to be another one of those guys.

Will I be mad at Quade Green at leaving?

Absolutely not. I’m not mad at any of these guys for doing what is best for them. I can’t even get mad at Calipari, because if he had his choice, he would have many of these guys stay four years.

This is becoming a trend at Kentucky, and I don’t know exactly what the answer is at this point. We all want the best of the best. And the best of the best are going to be here for one year, two years max. But we also want multi-year guys. Most of the time those are exclusively two different caliber of players.

Calipari reaching out to Green shows that he understands the consequences of guys like Green splitting. Calipari has to find the perfect balance for his team and for the program.