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Arizona basketball season player review: Josh Green

Gonzaga v Arizona Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats never got to complete their 2019-20 season, one that began with so much promise, hope and hype before ending abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic shut down college basketball (and all other sports) in March.

While we’ll never know what this team could have accomplished in the NCAA Tournament, 32 games worth of competition is more than enough to assess each individual player’s performance.

Josh Green

  • Year: Freshman
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Position: Small forward
  • 2019-20 statistics: 12.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 42.4% FG, 36.1% 3-pt FG, 78.0% FT

Season breakdown

From Australia, by way of IMG Academy in Florida, Green was no doubt Arizona’s most athletic player and the one who could do the most things. And in quite a few games we got to see that stat-stuffing skillset, as evidenced by a season stat line that only four other power-conference players put up in 2019-20.

But as diverse a talent as he was, Green didn’t necessarily do many of those things extraordinarily, which to many made him come off as mediocre. Those people also probably didn’t notice some of his acrobatics in either saving balls out of bounds, dishing to an opponent who did not look open or sprinting downcourt for a dunk.

Green defended with tremendous energy, helping Arizona force turnovers and get out in transition (where he could finish with the best of them). He also took very good care of the ball, his 12.6 percent turnover rate the best among the starters and only slightly behind Jemarl Baker Jr. without having a long stretch of games without a giveaway like Baker did.

His shooting wasn’t particularly solid, or consistent, but Green did show the ability to get hot at times. He had 10 games with at least 15 points and eight where he drained two or more 3-pointers.

Best stretch of play

For someone who does so much, it’s hard to use a single (or even two or three) raw stats to signify a hot stretch. But if you factor in shooting percentage, then Green was at his best late in the season.

Even with a 2-of-7 performance in the regular-season finale against Washington, Green shot 51 percent overall and 62.5 percent from 3 in his last six contests. That run was interrupted by a two-game absence due to a lower back strain, causing him to miss the critical Los Angeles trip, but he returned with a 12-point, 4-rebound, 4-assist, 2-steal game against Washington State like he hadn’t missed any time.

Worst stretch of play

Remember that epic collapse at ASU in late January? Yeah, we all want to forget that one, especially Green, since that was the low point of his Arizona career. When he missed a shot at the buzzer it meant he had gone 0 for 8 from the field, the only time he failed to make a basket all season, and finished with just two points.

Green’s scoring slump continued on the Washington trip where, despite Arizona winning both times he was a combined 6 of 18 from the field and 1 of 3 from 3-point range. Over those three games he averaged just 5.3 points along with 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals.

Quotable

Sean Miller on Green: “I think the reason that he’s such a terrific player is his versatility. He brings so many different things to a game. He can guard a variety of players. We keep track of deflections and he leads our team in deflections. He can get a big steal, shot block. In transition, if he’s not our best overall player in transition, he’s one of them. And the thing about him is he can both finish and he also he’s had some of our best passes in transition. Offensively, being able to drive the ball and get to the foul line and drive the ball and score, I think he’s one of our best if not our best in that area.”

What’s next?

The last of Arizona’s three freshman one-and-dones, Green officially declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on April 10, through it was a foregone conclusion he wasn’t coming back just like it was for Zeke Nnaji and Nico Mannion. But unlike those other two, Green’s vast skillset and athleticism gives him the best chance to contribute right away at the next level and probably makes him the most likely of the three to have a long career in the pros.