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Green finds success in first season at UK

Making the adjustment to major college basketball isn’t as easy as Blair Green has made it look in her first season at the University of Kentucky.

“The biggest difference has been the speed of the game. Having to handle school and basketball at the same time has been kind of tough. Time management is important, I’ve learned, but it went really well,” said Green, who reported a grade point average above a 3.0 in her first college semester

Green, a former Harlan County all-state guard, has played in all 15 games for the Wildcats this season, filling a key reserve role in Kentucky’s surprising 14-1 start. Green is playing just under 20 minutes a game, averaging 6.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

“I don’t think we’d be 12-1 without her,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said after Kentucky’s recent win at home over Murray State. “She has made a huge contribution. She is off to a great start and will have a great career at Kentucky. I’m glad Blair Green is a Wildcat.”

Green hit four of six shots in the win over Murray and finished with nine points in front of her personal cheering section. Her former teammates at Harlan County were in the stands, along with her coaches, which included her parents, Debbie and Elgie Green. Blair’s parents have been regulars at Kentucky games this season but having the Lady Bears in attendance made the game special for Green.

“I’ve missed them. I haven’t seen them in a long time,” said Green, who is enjoying her first year of college basketball.

“It’s more than what I thought. It’s awesome,” she said. “I love it.”

Green led Harlan County to its first state tournament appearance last season, earning all-state honors in the process while finishing as a finalist for the Miss Basketball award. She had offers from major colleges around the nation before picking Kentucky, a team that struggled much of last season and finished with a 15-17 record.

Kentucky’s problems from a year ago appear to have vanished with this year’s strong start, one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation.

“We put the work in this summer, and we haven’t backed down,” Green said. “I’m proud of how resilient we’ve been.”

One of the highlights for Green this season has been the chance to finally play with senior Maci Morris, a childhood friend who was her opponent in high school when Morris was playing with Bell County and Green was at Middlesboro in the seventh and eighth grades and then at Harlan County in high school. Debbie Hoskins Green and Patti Myers Morris were teammates at Harlan High School and led the Lady Dragons to their first 13th Region title in 1987.

“It’s better than playing against her,” Green said with a laugh. “We have such good chemistry on and off the court. Being able to learn from her has been amazing.”

Both coach and player agree that improved strength is the next step for Green.

“I want to work on my strength and be more aggressive,” she said.

“We just want her to get stronger and continue to learn the game,” Mitchell said. “She is making the transition into a college player.”

Mitchell is confident his Harlan County standout will continue to improve.

“We’re excited about Blair and her progress,” he said. “She will continue to grow and get better. What I love about her is her attitude, plus her heart and spirit for the team. She always has a smile on her face and is someone we all love to be around. She is a fine person, and we’re glad she’s here.”