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Quentin Snider deserves to be celebrated

Tonight and every other night.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I remember exactly where I was when I heard that Quentin Snider had committed to Louisville. That’s no small feat considering it happened almost seven years ago.

It was the summer of 2011. I had decided that law school was no longer the play, and that I would at least take a shot at writing about college basketball and Louisville full-time to try and make a living. I had no idea if it was going to work out long-term. I figured it probably wouldn’t.

Quentin Snider was also in the process of making a bold life decision. He probably heard the same warnings from those around him that I did.

Snider was just a couple months removed from wrapping up his freshman season at Ballard High School. He’d been a major name in the Louisville basketball scene for a few years now, establishing himself as a player to watch while pairing up with D’Angelo Russell to form the backcourt of the dominant Louisville Magic AAU squad. With three full seasons of high school ball to go, Snider did what 15-year-old kids are never supposed to do and removed himself from the recruiting game.

In theory, this is chapter three or four of the ultimate Louisville fairy tale. The story goes on to detail how Cardinal fans followed closely as Snider continued to develop as one of the top high school talents in the area. They celebrated as he helped lead the Bruins to the state championship game and broke the school scoring record of the great Allan Houston. The realization of a lifelong dream then came to fruition when Snider inked with the Cardinals and prepared to follow in the footsteps of local legends like DeJuan Wheat and Darrell Griffith.

Most of that is true, but fairy tales always exclude the untidy details.

Though it’s unlikely to ever be confirmed on the record, at some point during Snider’s high school career, the Louisville coaching staff came to the conclusion that the local kid wasn’t good enough to play college basketball at the highest level. When the message was relayed, Snider wound up decommitting just weeks before the start of his senior year. The only public statement he gave did little to mask his disappointment.

“I would love to be a Cardinal,” Snider wrote on Twitter. “But at this time it’s time I think it’s better to look at other options to make sure it’s the right fit for me.”

A few members of the Louisville staff may have believed Snider wasn’t good enough to play high level college basketball, but talent evaluators across the rest of the country certainly did. When news of Snider’s decommitment broke, schools like UCLA, Memphis, Illinois and Marquette wasted no time getting involved. Snider ultimately committed to John Groce and the Fighting Illini, and was all set to sign with the program on Nov. 15, 2013.

Then, in a foreshadowing of things to come for Snider’s college career, something unexpected happened. Louisville was interested again.

Rick Pitino hadn’t been able to ink an “elite” point guard in the 2014 class, which meant Snider’s opportunity to suit up for the team he’d cheered for his entire life was back on the table. Illinois never received Snider’s signed letter of intent. Louisville did.

The modern basketball fairy tale was back on. It had just gotten off to a weird start.

It would get weirder.

For the bulk of his freshman season, Snider did a serviceable job backing up senior point guard Chris Jones on a top 15 Louisville team. It was a standard freshman season for a standard freshman guard at a standard major conference program.

Everything changed when Jones was dismissed from the program with just five regular season games to play. Suddenly, Snider was thrust into a position where he would go from playing 5-10 minutes a game to 30-35. If he sank, Louisville was going to sink. If he swam, Louisville at least had a chance to do something special.

Snider swam.

He scored a (then) career-high 16 points and hit two clutch free-throws in the closing seconds to help Louisville sneak by UC-Irvine in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament. He followed that up with 10 points over 35 minutes in Louisville’s second round dismantling of Northern Iowa.

Before Louisville’s Sweet 16 game against NC State, star Wolfpack point guard Cat Barber was asked about U of L’s improvement since the dismissal of Jones and about the play of Snider in particular. NC State had defeated Louisville at the KFC Yum Center just a month earlier and Barber had been the star of the show.

“I don’t really see any difference besides (Jones) being gone to be honest.”

And of Snider’s play?

“I’m not a big talker. But he’s got his hands full.”

Dealing with disrespect was not a novel concept for Snider. He scored 14 points and held Barber to 3 of 14 shooting from the field in a 75-65 Cardinal victory.

The unexpected end of 2015 should have set the stage for a breakout sophomore season for Snider. While his averages did improve significantly (12.2 ppg/4.0 apg), he wound up sharing the point guard duties with graduate transfer Trey Lewis. Snider, like all Louisville players, was also forced to deal with something else beyond his control: The stripper scandal that plagued the program all season long and ultimately robbed the 2015-16 Cards of a postseason.

Before his junior season, yet another graduate transfer point guard was brought in to compete with Snider for the starting role. Snider never complained about the addition of Tony Hicks. He just went about his business, earned the starting job for himself, and helped guide Louisville to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Senior year? Same unexpected drama. You don’t need me to recount the details.

Every single one of us on this site have complained about some of the things that have gone on with the Louisville basketball program over the past four years. Most of us have complained, at least to some degree, about all of them.

No one associated with Louisville basketball has had more reasons to complain in recent years than Quentin Snider. No one. And yet the guy has not let out one public word of dissatisfaction. All he’s done is bust his ass, become the school’s 68th 1,000-point scorer, and serve as the stabilizing force on four U of L teams that, all things considered, have given us just about everything they could give.

And maybe this is the modern Louisville basketball fairy tale, or at least as close as we can get to one. Maybe the warts add character to a hollow narrative nobody should have bought into in the first place. Maybe.

Regardless, Quentin Snider is all the things we claim we want a Louisville basketball player to be — effective, selfless and homegrown. He deserves to be celebrated, and not just on senior night.