SEATTLE — For weeks, Mike Hopkins could only talk about Quade Green in the abstract while waiting for the day when the Kentucky transfer would be cleared to play for the Washington Huskies.
After the NCAA approved Green’s eligibility petition last Friday, Hopkins had a chance to paint a visual picture of the 6-foot point guard sharing the court with a UW team loaded with long, rangy frontcourt players, including touted freshman forwards Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.
“He’s just a great floor leader and a guy who can make others around him better,” Hopkins said. “He can make open shots. He’s done it at the highest stage all throughout his life. He’s been a winner. He’s figured out ways to win.
“He can get anywhere on the court that he needs to get. He has a floater game, a layup game and a kickout game. At the end of the (shot) clock, if you need a bucket, he can get you a shot. I think he shot 42 or 43 percent from the 3-point line at Kentucky. Anytime you add someone like that, it helps you and you get better right off the bat.”
Washington, which opens the season Friday against No. 16 Baylor in Anchorage, Alaska, easily dispatched Western Washington 87-63 during last Thursday’s exhibition in which the Huskies finished with 20 assists and 13 turnovers.
Still, Hopkins believes Green, who averaged 8.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 1.0 steals and 17.8 minutes in nine games as a backup last season at Kentucky, will make UW even more efficient offensively.
“He’s arguably your best shooter on the team,” Hopkins said. “A guy that can make open shots. He can space the floor. Really good in transition. He makes the game easier for others.
“I thought for the most part after the game — even watching the film — I thought we shared the ball exceptionally well. And he brings that element and you add another guy who can shoot the ball. When the clock is going down and you need somebody to make a play, he has that ability to be a playmaker. He helps you.”
With Green sitting out, the Huskies relied on sophomore guard Elijah Hardy during their four blowout exhibition wins in Italy, last week’s 61-58 closed-door scrimmage loss at TCU and Thursday’s win over Western Washington.
The Huskies were planning to start the season without Green, who was scheduled to make his UW debut on Dec. 17, before the NCAA granted his petition.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Hopkins said. “We tried to film it and he saw the camera. I don’t know if he knew, but he kept looking around. The kid is from Philly and you’re not getting anything past him. I gathered everybody up and I said ‘Quade got eligible today.’
“If you do something for your whole life and it’s taken away from you for a little bit, that’s a hard thing. He already sat out for half a season last year. So I’m just really happy for him and happy for his family and happy for University of Washington basketball.”
Despite last playing his most recent game 11 months ago, Green is expected to step into a starting lineup that includes guard Nahziah Carter, forward Hameir Wright, Stewart and McDaniels.
“Now we just got to get him to relax,” Hopkins said when asked if he anticipates any problems integrating Green into the lineup. “When you haven’t played you want to prove to the world what you can do.
“I think he’ll be ready because these practices have really helped him. He’s stayed connected with our team and has began forming relationships with the guys on the court and in the locker room.”