The Arizona Wildcats - rated the 14th best team in NCAA Division I basketball by ESPN - very nearly suffered a shock loss to the unheralded Pepperdine Waves on Thursday. A breakout game from Sydney native Josh Green helped Arizona escape with a narrow two-point victory and remain undefeated - their record currently sits at 7-0.
Green finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, setting new season highs in each category. The 19 year old initially showed off his explosive athleticism with two transition dunks in the first half. He would later find his shooting stroke, hitting three consecutive three-pointers in the second half.
Green logged 35 minutes in this contest and finally found some opportunities on offense. Four of Arizona's seven wins so far have been blowouts, with the Aussie often sitting out in garbage time. The close game hence provided an opportunity for Green to step up. As a 6'6 shooting guard, he projects as a "3-and-D" player at the professional level.
Green's defensive play had already drawn attention from NBA scouts, and nothing changed in this game. ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz described the Sydney product as a "lottery pick", and lauded his off-ball efforts. Although Green's defensive impact extends well beyond the stat sheet, his tally of three steals was nonetheless impressive.
Before the season started, the Arizona Wildcat was ranked 22nd in ESPN's 2020 mock draft. His position improved to 16th in ESPN's next update, which was released just last week. Now, after making a statement in Thursday's game, Green is poised to crack the lottery. His stock is continuing on an upward trajectory and he doesn't appear to be slowing down.
“My goal is just to win. I want to win at Arizona," Green shared in an earlier interview with The Pick and Roll. "I was lucky enough to win at IMG Academy. I want to take it game by game, practice by practice, and try to be the best defender on the floor at all times.”
And winning is what he's doing right now.