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Lauren Kirschman: Quade Green returns to lead UW Huskies after academic ineligibility

News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. logoNews Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. 10/27/2020 Lauren Kirschman, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Quade Green had never felt lower.

He knew he disappointed his Washington teammates when he was declared academically ineligible in January. Then he was forced to watch as a once-promising season turned to ash. With Green, UW started the year 11-4. Without him, it went 4-13 en route to the last-place finish in the Pac-12.

Still, Green didn’t allow himself to dwell on the guilt. Maybe it would have been easier that way, to stay quiet and forgotten and out of the way. But that’s not Green’s nature.

Instead, he turned himself into an extension of the coaching staff.

“I was a point guard and I got ineligible, but I was still the leader of the team,” Green said during a Zoom interview on Monday. “I was using my voice.”

Before home games, Green helped the coaching staff with warm-ups. During games, he was up and down on the bench — yelling encouragement or offering advice to one of the young guards attempting to fill the space he left behind.

UW didn’t have a reliable back-up point guard waiting in the wings, so Green did everything he could to smooth the transition.

Junior Jamal Bey, sophomore Marcus Tsohonis and Elijah Hardy, who transferred to Portland State in the offseason, each saw time at the point in Green’s absence. While Bey had the experience, he’s not a natural point guard. Tsohonis was expecting to redshirt until he was forced into action and eventually settled into the starting role.

“They were new to it,” said Green, who transferred from Kentucky in January 2019. “Everybody was learning. When I came to college, I was new to it, too, so I had to learn how to listen and all the other stuff to really understand what the point guard sacrifices and what it needs to be.

“I just held my voice accountable and I told (those guys) they had to use their voice. They did somewhat good of a job. They just couldn’t execute sometimes.”

Bey described Green as having “a bullet-proof mind.”

“He was out there relentless,” Bey said, “cheering us on, helping us however he could.”

After missing games, Green said he had to break himself down and build himself back up. He gained confidence over the summer when he would go to the gym two or three times a day after running a 7 a.m. Late at night, he watched motivational videos of Denzel Washington, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as he did push-ups, sit-ups and yoga treatments.

The experience helped Green mature, and he said he’s “holding himself more accountable” than before.

“Just taking that negativity and turning it to a positive,” Green said of his mindset. “When I got out for half the year, I trained my body and I trained my mind like, don’t worry about nothing. You’re always going to have a next year. Then next year came. Here it is.”

‘I got a new slate’

Green is now eligible again — UW head coach Mike Hopkins said the most recent quarter was his best performance academically — and he’ll play a pivotal role for a Huskies’ team looking to rebound from last year’s dismal record despite the loss of freshman stars Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.

“I got a new slate,” Green said. “New team, better team and we’re ready to go now.”

Green will almost definitely slide back into his role as starting point guard, but UW now has options behind him . Not only does Tsohonis have a year of experience, but UW also added a talented transfer in Nate Pryor (North Idaho College). Pryor will be immediately eligible, and that could allow Tsohonis to play more off the ball.

“(Tsohonis) and Quade make a great combination,” Hopkins said. “They both have the ability to shoot in the high 40s from the 3-point line. They both have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.”

UW added two more transfers in Cole Bajema (Michigan) and Erik Stevenson (Wichita State). Both need waivers to play immediately. While Hopkins said he heard from the NCAA on one of the two, he wouldn’t reveal which player or the result. Later in the interview, though, Hopkins said he thought “there would be great news for both of them.”

If both are declared eligible, Green will be surrounded by offensive weapons. And that’s good news for UW. In 15 games last season, Green expertly ran the offense. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists while also shooting 51.4% from the floor and leading the Huskies by shooting 44.7% from the 3-point line.

Despite missing half the season, he still finished as the team’s leader in assists with 79. With him, UW averaged 73.6 points per game. Without him, that number dropped to 67.9.

“He’s grown in so many different areas,” Hopkins said. “Took accountability for his actions. … He’s working and he’s been a better leader and he’s been great every day in practice. He’s really growing. He’s taken a so-called negative and turned it into a positive.

“I believe he’ll be if not the best guard in the league, one of the best guards in the league and maybe even in the country. We’re really, really high on him. He’s been playing really, really well and has been a great leader for our guys.”

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©2020 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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