Emergence (noun: e●mer●gence / the process of coming into being, or becoming important or prominent)
Occasionally a player comes along who you can't help but embrace. Sure, in theory, one would like to think that EVERY player who dawns a jersey for the team he or she rabidly supports (for the sake of this article, Louisville) is revered, accepted and highly regarded. But the reality is that not all players who come and go are fan favorites. In fact, the vast majority of kids (yes, we must remember they are mostly 18-22 year olds) who play college basketball show up on campus, play out their respective careers, get a degree and then are occasionally remembered after leaving school for one reason or another. Personally, I think there are three primary types of players in this regard. Allow me to quickly explain myself and give you more insight before I really one in on Quentin Snider. Let's start with type number one.
❶ The Capitalizer
OK, so how many of you reading his article remember Tim Henderson? I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet my entire G.I. Joe figure collection that damn near all of you know who I'm talking about. In fact, many of you may refer to him as "Wichita". Henderson, as we all watched, made a name for himself in just TWO possessions when the Cards looked doomed against Wichita State in the 2013 Semi-final. It was Henderson's back to back three pointers in the second half that completely flipped momentum in favor of the Cards as they would go to beat the Shockers and ultimately cut down the nets. Henderson, a fine player in his own right, personifies a kid who capitalized on an opportunity and for that I give him kudos.
Oh, there are other former players who fit into this category. Remember Keith Legree? Chances are you wouldn't have had he hit a last second game winning half-court shot at LSU to beat a Tigers team lead by a guy named Shaquille O'Neal. Want another? There are others I could name, but for brevity sake I'm moving on to type number two.
❷ The Legend
Some players have their own legacy before ever putting on the school jersey. The perfect example of this type of player would be none other than Darrell Griffith, Dr. Dunkenstein himself. Griffith, a hometown kid from Male, was already a local legend in the city of Louisville and was embraced from day one by UofL fans both near and far. His promise to bring UofL it's first national championship and then later delivering on it placed him in the all-time annals of the most beloved Louisville Basketball players of all-time.
A much more recent legend could best be exemplified by Russ Smith, more affectionately known as Russdiculous. Smith did not start out his UofL career in the same fashion as Griffith, but instead exploded onto the scene in his later years while helping the school win it's 3rd national championship and earning (like Griffith) All-American honors along the way. Smith and Grif are just a few Louisville players who fit into this category. I couldn't go to sleep tonight if I at least didn't mention a few other living legends in Never Nervous, Milt Ice Wagner, Luke Hancock & the McCray brothers. Time to hit on type number three.
❸ The Negative Nancy
Sometimes the hype or expectations are just too much. At a school like Louisville where excellence is not just anticipated but expected, there are players who come and go that are remembered for all the wrong reasons. Look I'm not gonna dive deep here because my goal is not to diminish anyone's playing career or who they were and are as a person. But, it's no secret that some players who have played at the University we love leave a bad taste in your mouth when you think of their legacies. Some do so because they just never reached their potential (Derrick Caracter, Barry Sumpter) while others leave behind that sour taste because of poor decisions (Andre McGee, Carlos Hurt, Chane Behanan). Regardless, this group of players is one that you hate to even think about but exist nonetheless.
So how and where does Quentin Snider fit into all the above? First and foremost, Snider is causing me to rethink my category of players theory. I'm considering the addition of a fourth type that I would call "The Marathon Man". For a guy like Snider it's all about the journey. And as a diehard fan the same can be said. I can still remember the first time I saw Snider play. It was his sophomore year while playing for traditional powerhouse Ballard HS in the annual King of the Bluegrass. I liked him a lot that night, and I like him to this day. The thing that stuck out to me the most then, and still today, was how calm, cool and collected he played. I don't personally know Snider so I cannot assume that he is the same off the court as he is on it. Regardless, he possesses some unique qualities that you don't see in a lot of today's college basketball players. He's not flashy, but he makes plays that catch your attention. He's not explosive, but he finds ways to beat his man and find the open lane. He's not a big scorer, but he gives you points when you need them.
Quentin Snider has the potential to be remembered as a kid who personifies Louisville Basketball as we have all come to know it. Here's why.......
Hometown kid? √
Proven Winner? √
Easy to embrace? √
As a freshman, Snider sat patiently while watched and learned from his mentors. He then capitalized on an opportunity when Chris Jones exited stage left and made the most of It, blossoming as one of the biggest late and post season surprises in recent memory and especially 2015 (sorry Anton Gill). His development has continued into the 2015-16 season as he is now becoming a more heavily relied upon scorer or orchestrator. His defense has also made a big jump from last season. He has obviously put in the time in the weight room as he looks to be in much better shape from a conditioning standpoint compared to last season.
Snider is simple between the lines. He just plays, and leaves the chest thumping and other antics for others to act out. He's silent in that you almost forget he's even on the court at times until he demands your attention after dropping a nice dime or banging home a three. And mostly, Snider is smooth. I have yet to see Quentin get rattled despite having already played in some tough environments. Has he always played superb? No, but no one is flawless. What I like most about "Q" is that when he does have an off night or a series of bad plays, he doesn't panic and lets the game come to him.
Fortunately, the Cards have a kid in Snider who is going to be around for the long haul. And that's good news for Coach Rick Pitino. Players like Quentin bring stability to your team and they help to strengthen your program's brand. He has continued to impress and I expect that to continue into the near future. He's growing up right in front of us, and we as fans are all fortunate to get to experience the journey.