Quentin Snider wanted to play basketball for the University of Louisville so badly, he committed after his freshman year in high school. He didn’t bat an eye. He wanted to be a Cardinal and play basketball for Rick Pitino.
He wasn’t exceptionally fast. He wasn’t long. He didn’t have astonishing athleticism. His hands were not freakishly big. Despite all his apparent shortcomings, people began to recognize early what positive traits he did possess. Toughness. Humbleness. He was coachable. He was a winner.
Coach Pitino accepted his scholarship without hesitation. All was right in the world.
While in high school, Quentin was still working on becoming the player and man he is today.
Early Lessons in Toughness
“He learned some of the toughness from Ellis Myles,” his father Scott shared.
Ellis Myles was a resident tough guy for Louisville’s 2005 Final Four team, famous among Louisville fans for his ability to out-produce his own lack of measurements for his position. He was essentially a 6’6” power forward playing center, yet he averaged double-digit rebounds. Ellis was now the coach for the Louisville Magic, a successful AAU squad.
Scott continued, “They were playing a tournament in Brooklyn. Fifty college coaches came to watch as both rosters were loaded with talent. Up by 25 points with two minutes to go, Q got beat on defense and Ellis yanks him out of the game. Ellis was barking at him about it, really letting him have it, and out of nowhere, the puppy dog got his teeth. Quentin yelled back ‘first damn time all game!’ As you can imagine, Ellis wasn’t going to take that and kicked him off the bench and into the stands. Q came down from the stands at the next timeout, and Ellis made his way through the players to kick him back into the stands. I can’t really say what he said. You couldn’t print it.”
Quentin pouted in the stands until the game was over. Ellis walked off the court and did not look Quentin’s way. The players quietly followed the coach. The assistant coaches walked out without acknowledging Quentin either.
Scott said, “I told him, you had better get your butt on that bus. All these coaches watching this game are watching you right now too.”
Quentin caught up with the bus. Ellis, who was driving off without him, slammed on the brakes, ‘You about ready to get on this damn bus?’ Ellis had no plans to leave him behind. Quentin jumped on quickly, and Ellis drove off down the street.
“Ellis was always challenging him. It prepared him for how Rick coached him, and it certainly prepared him for everything that has come his way.”
High School Years
Quentin did amazing things at Ballard, where he attended high school. His first ever game he scored 27 points as his unranked Ballard squad took down fourth-ranked Scott County by 17 points. That caught people’s attention. Quiet, unassuming Quentin Snider became Ballard’s all-time leading scorer with 2,442 points – topping NBA great Allan Houston’s mark. In fact, Q is still 7th all-time in KHSAA for three pointers made (377) and 11th all-time in assists (633). Yet, as his high school years continued, the Cardinals’ recruiting staff was coming to fewer and fewer games. It may have been waning interest or the staff may have been confident in his commitment. Either way, Quentin noticed. Other coaches were getting in his ear about it, too.
But at that point, he still felt good about his spot with Louisville. The rotation of guards and wings were at good numbers, and he certainly wanted to play his freshman year. Then Louisville started taking more commitments. Five-star Jaquan Lyle, an NBA sized 6’6” point guard, who enjoyed playing with Quentin, committed. Another five-star Shaquan Aaron, a wing player, also committed. Quentin felt like the rotation was growing too fast. They already had Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, and Anton Gill in the fold. The rotation of guards and wings kept growing. Brandone Francois, another wing/guard, was also being recruited heavily by the Cardinals.
Quentin made the call. He decommitted, later committing to Illinois.
Ironically, Jaquan Lyle hated the news and he soon decommitted. Brandone Francois ended up committing to Florida. Louisville renewed their interest in Quentin’s recruitment. He wanted to play for Louisville all along, so switched his commitment back to Louisville.
Freshman guard Quentin Snider stepped up to the free throw line. It was the first round of the NCAA tourney. The game was tied with 8.9 seconds to go. He quietly nailed both free throws to help his team advance over scrappy UC-Irvine. A hometown kid living out his dream to play hero for his hometown school, Louisville. He finished the game with 16 points, 13 points over his season average and only one turnover. It was a remarkable game under pressure for someone who wasn’t supposed to be the starter. The starting role belonged to senior guard Chris Jones, but recently was kicked off the team. Newspapers filled with stories of Chris Jones arrest. There was distraction, uncertainty and chaos. Quentin took over a team in crisis without skipping a beat, starting the final six games of the year. His calming presence on the floor gave Louisville everything they needed to keep fighting to the Elite 8 against Michigan State, and get oh so close to another Final Four. He made the most out of his unsolicited opportunity, quietly delivering for the Cardinals in a big way when they needed it most.
As a sophomore guard, Quentin Snider soberly fell into line with his teammates. They filled the media room behind teammates Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, two graduate transfers who had come to Louisville to help make them a power in 2016. Only this news conference was about Louisville self-imposing a post-season ban in response to allegations that an assistant coach arranged prostitutes during select recruiting visits. There were tears. Yet he helped make the most of a bad situation without hanging his head. The team won their “final four” home games, but not the Final Four Quentin was coveting.
As a junior guard Quentin Snider somberly walked a straight line to the team’s locker room. He played probably his worst game in a Louisville uniform. Once again eligible for the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Louisville gave up a 2nd half lead in a loss to Michigan in the tourney’s second round. He had a bad game, nothing more to it than that. It happens. He didn’t call home for almost a week after the loss.
“He had come back from a torn hip flexor and while we had quite a few strong games after the injury, his first halves were always rough. I suppose it just took him that long to get fully loose in the game, because he always played much better in the second halves, but the better second half never came against Michigan” Scott said.
Despite the way it ended, Q’s junior year had many bright spots, including an exciting win over in-state rival Kentucky, the program’s first since the 2013 season. Quentin played a huge role, and possibly his best game of the year. Just a hometown kid quietly delivering another big win to his hometown school.
Quentin called home before summer began.
“He called me up and said, ‘Dad, I have to get faster.’ The Michigan loss was still bothering him and he felt this was something he needed to improve.” Scott continued, “I knew some people that could help. Ebonee Sutton trains track stars and spotted right away how tight his hips and legs were. He would need to commit to three days a week to her if he was serious, and he was. Three days a week on its own doesn’t sound like much, but Quentin also had individual workouts with Ryan Williams, who specializes in one-on-one instruction, weight lifting with the team, team practices, and scrimmages, too. In all, it was about twelve workouts a week, but he was as determined as I have seen him.”
Quentin spent his entire summer erasing the pain of the Michigan loss and preparing for a senior year determined to be his best since putting on a Louisville uniform.
Then it happened.
The senior guard was walking over to a team workout and noticed David Padgett was leading it. Strangers were walking around talking to Louisville officials. What is going on? It was all happening so fast. It was all so confusing. Word got out that Coach Pitino no longer had access to his office and he was soon no longer with the team. The FBI was conducting interviews as a part of a larger investigation across all of college basketball. Not again, he thinks.
The team was in shock.
The next day the players headed into a weight lifting session. It was different, but they had each other. Unfortunately, this is something that Quentin and a few of the upperclassman had been through before.
They started to lead.
The workout was therapeutic. They had a run. Even more therapeutic. They had a team talk and felt Padgett should lead them. They looked up to him. David was young enough to understand them, but old enough to drop the hammer when they needed it, and they’d listen. As the athletic department reviewed candidates, the team sat back and hoped. Later that week, David Padgett was named interim head coach.
The team went back to work.
This quiet unassuming Ballard High School superstar certainly didn’t sign up for all this, but he has remarkably cast it all aside to focus on getting better and help the team improve just the same. The distractions were just noise in the background. It hasn’t been easy. It is tough to lead even during the best of times. It is far more challenging to lead during the difficult of times. Quentin Snider led his team during arguably the most challenging times in the school’s history. He should be remembered for that.
This year, the Cardinals will start a new season unlike any other in school history. They are loaded with talent, light on coaches and loaded with distractions. Opposing fans will be cruel. Quentin has seen this all before. He has steadied the ship far more times than any player should be asked in his college career.
A quote from Matthew is tattooed on his arm: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He lives his life by this quote. It has helped him during the many transitions he has had to face over the past few years. Go in humble. Work hard. Lead.
Quentin Snider isn’t going to ask for anything from the fans. That’s not his style. But the fans who recognize what he has given to this program under the circumstances he has been dealt should give him the special senior season he deserves.
Or perhaps you’d rather Ellis Myles ask?
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