Basketball Recruiting

Quade Green to Gerry McNamara: ‘I broke his heart today. Had to do what I had to do’

Matthew Gutierrez | Asst. Copy Editor

Quade Green chose Kentucky over Syracuse on Saturday night.

UPDATED: Nov. 21 at 4:15 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Midway through a team scrimmage Saturday night at Neumann-Goretti (Pennsylvania) High School, Quade Green walked off the court. His mother handed him a backpack as he headed into the locker room. About 15 minutes later, he came out in a navy USA sweatshirt, sweatpants and sneakers, with a white towel wrapped around his neck to shield anybody from seeing the color — blue or orange — of his undershirt.

In his backpack lay a Kentucky hat, which Green pulled out from underneath a table in the gym at Neumann-Goretti. That’s how Green, swarmed by a few hundred friends, family and community members, announced where he had decided to commit. His shirt underneath the towel was blue, too.

The lure of Kentucky, college basketball’s most successful program in terms of both all-time wins and winning percentage, quashed Syracuse’s months-long hunt for one of the top high school players in the country. Every other weekend for the past few months, Green said, Gerry McNamara visited him. Syracuse wanted the high school senior. McNamara wanted him. And in a way, SU needed the floor general, as the Orange has only one commit from the 2017 class.

But ESPN’s No. 2 rated player in Pennsylvania chose UK, a team that’s made four Final Four appearances since 2011. Green, who also had offers from Duke, Louisville and Villanova, had finalized his options to include UK and SU in the spring, referring to Saturday’s outcome as the result of a seven-month decision.

“It was really tough,” he said, shaking his head. “Shout out to G-Mac. I broke his heart today. Had to do what I had to do. Syracuse has been fighting hard for two years … The last week was probably the most stressful I’ve ever had in my life.”

Green’s reason for choosing Kentucky was simple: head coach John Calipari told him he would be the starting point guard as a freshman. “That was the only pitch to me,” Green said, adding that it beckoned him enough to choose UK over a program that was among the first to offer him.

When SU offered Green in the summer of 2015, following his sophomore year, he was rated No. 43 by ESPN. Now, he’s No. 22. He would have joined Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Rakeem Christmas as Philadelphia-area Syracuse players.

The five-star guard signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, but did not make a formal announcement until Saturday night.

There was a 39 percent chance he’d pick SU and 52 percent chance he’d pick UK, 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predicted. Yet Green swayed back and forth over the last few months, weeks and even days. Over the last couple of weeks, he spoke daily about the decision with his high school coach, Carl Arrigale. Two weeks ago, he watched Syracuse beat Colgate on opening night. On Tuesday, he sat courtside at Madison Square Garden to watch Kentucky beat Michigan State.

“This kid had a hard, hard time this week,” Arrigale said. “He had a lot of love for Syracuse’s coaching staff. If he could have put himself in two places, he would have.

“He feels a little bit like he was letting Gerry down.”

At practice on Saturday afternoon, Green walked with a different pace, possessing a different way about him, his coach said. The Saints’ three-year starter was looser and more relaxed than he was the rest of the week. Green had spoken with Syracuse football junior wide receiver Jamal Custis, whom Green played basketball with as a freshman at Neumann-Goretti. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Green would have joined forward Oshae Brissett as Syracuse’s second commit from the 2017 class.

Green would have been Syracuse’s 22nd ESPN Top 100 commit since 2010. In that time, Kentucky has landed the most ESPN Top 100 recruits. With Green’s commitment, it now has the nation’s best recruiting class coming to its campus next fall, per ESPN.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Quade Green’s signing status as of Saturday night was misstated. Green signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, but did not make a formal announcement until Saturday night. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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