KU’s Quentin Grimes and Bill Self on USA gold medal
Quentin Grimes is beginning to settle into a routine after spending his first 10 days on Kansas’ campus.
“It’s been good to work out with the guys. Just the intensity we have … every day we go super hard on the court and in the weight room,” Grimes, KU’s 6-foot-5 freshman combo guard from The Woodlands, Texas said Tuesday at Brett Ballard’s Washburn University basketball camp held at Lee Arena in Topeka.
Grimes arrived in Lawrence on June 17 after winning most valuable player honors for Team USA at the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in St. Catherines, Canada. He was told to take some time off — attend summer classes but to otherwise stay off his feet — by KU coach Bill Self, who directed the Grimes-led squad to a 6-0 record that included 100-point offensive explosions in each game.
“Coach wanted me to take off a full week. I only took off three or four days,” Grimes said with a smile. “We have a couple days off for July 4. I’ll be good for sure.”
Grimes said official practices at KU — the Jayhawks are allowed to practice four hours a week with coaches as long as school is in session — remind him of the under-18 team practices led by Self plus Team USA assistants Danny Manning and Anthony Grant.
“Actually pretty similar,” said Grimes, who averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists in the six games. “Some 5-on-5, just understanding how to play — the same style.”
Grimes said his more experienced KU teammates have been welcoming and eager to provide pointers.
“Marcus has been helping me a lot,” he said of fellow Texas native Marcus Garrett, a sophomore combo guard. “Charlie (Moore, sophomore point guard) has been helping, telling me what to do, what time to be (places). He and Marcus are helping the most. It’s good to have that mentorship out there."
After all … “I’m behind two to three weeks,” Grimes noted. “They’ve got a little head start on me. He (Garrett) is not quiet at all It’s good to have that leadership on the court.”
He said former Cal guard Moore has stood out as the squad’s best shooter.
“For sure,” Grimes said, adding, “Charlie is the most consistent. I think as long as I get my reps in I’ll be right behind him.”
Grimes said he’s been hoisting “300 or more shots before or after practice” after making 38 of 77 shots (49.4 percent) in the six games for Team USA. He converted 6 of 25 threes (24 percent) and 6 of 12 free throws (50 percent) with 23 assists against seven turnovers. He also had 10 steals.
He’s worked on his shooting form with KU assistant Kurtis Townsend.
“My thumb is getting in the way of the ball a little bit,” Grimes said. “The other part of my mechanics is good. I’ve got to get my thumb up a little bit. It’ll take a couple weeks. As long as I get the right technique, I’ll be fine. Staying in the gym will help you play better.”
KU has some quickness in the backcourt. Guards on the roster are Grimes, Moore, Garrett, Devon Dotson and Sam Cunliffe as well as guard/forwards Ochai Agbaji and K.J. Lawson.
The quickest player?
“I’ve not guarded Devon, but I guarded Charlie. He’s pretty quick on the court. I have to go with Charlie,” Grimes said.
Grimes’ MVP performance this summer after a senior year at College Park High in which the McDonald’s All-American averaged 29.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, has not gone unnoticed.
ESPN’s first NBA mock draft for 2019 projects Grimes to be selected sixth overall.
“I see that. I try not to pay too much attention to that,” Grimes said. “You can fall anytime. You’ve got to keep improving every day.”
Self has never been afraid of expectations for his players, calling Grimes, “probably as complete a guard as we've ever had. He can shoot. He can pass. He can dribble. He can score. He’s bright. And as good as he is, he’s competitive enough I think he could really be special, but he is still streaky. He doesn’t shoot it great all the time.”
Grimes played shooting guard for USA Basketball at the tourney in Canada. Yet Self has said his future is at the point.
“I think he’s a point guard that can play without the ball in his hands. It’s how we recruited him and how I think he is after coaching him a while,” Self said. “He’ll have arguably the best vision on our team. He doesn’t have to have the ball to play well. He’s a point that is a combo guard. It’s what we kind of made our living on here the last several years.”
Grimes said in a perfect world, “I prefer having the ball in my hands, try to make plays for myself and others.”
Yet, “I can play off the ball as well as in the post. I can guard 1, 2, 3, 4 if I need to. Whatever Coach Self wants me do on court I’ll do that,” he said.
He said he’s sure to be on the same page as Self.
“Yes I feel we’ve been bonding this whole time. At USA (camp and the FIBA Tournament), you’d spend the whole day with him, traveling with him,” Grimes said. “You get to know him and little things you didn’t know about him. He’s a great coach, a Hall of Fame coach.”