In pre season play in the German BBL, it is nothing unusual to see some of the young future prospects getting action as it is early and gives players the opportunity to get some valuable experience. In the first pre season game against the MLP Academics Heidelberg, the Fraport Skyliners did this giving new and ex FC Bayern Munich guard Bruno Vrcic ample minutes, while FC Bayern Munich battled American elite university Stanford and allowed young bucks Matej Rudan and Jason George to get minutes, but one has to remember this also happens when clubs are missing guys who are playing at an international tournament like the World Cup in China which is underway. The Fraport Skyliners also had many other young guys on the bench like Germans teenager Len Schoormann and 19 year old Aaron Kayser, but there was another young player who got sufficient minutes or is 23 years of age still young? Well compared to a 40 year old yes, but to a 17 or 18 year old no, but not necessarily a young prospect who has had NCAA experience. There was a young player on the court for Frankfurt who could easily have passed for a teammate of Len Schoorman with the U-19 team named Matt McQuaid. One could seriously have thought that he exited the wrong locker room and was playing with the wrong team, but he wasn´t. He definitely still has some gym time to do in the next years to get stronger and his more scrawney appearance and baby face helped bring his youthfulness into focus more. There are always guys that look younger than they look and one of the best examples was a kid by the name of Derek Raivio who came to Germany in 2007 as a 22 year old and when you saw him, he looked like he had just started high school and at times looked out of place with some of the older players, but he definitely had game. He had one big thing in common with McQuad in that he played at well known Gonzaga averaging 18,0ppg as a senior while McQuaid played at the prestigious Michigan State for Tom Izzo and averaged 9,9ppg as a senior. He may not have had the same scoring ending to his NCAA career like Raivio, but the American is a very skilled player. He may look like a kid, but has vital NCAA experience with a top school and top conference Big 10, so he has very much to offer. I wasn´t the only one who noticed the youthfulness of McQuaid, but so did captain and Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson. “When I first saw him, I didn´t think that he was as old as he was. I think teams will underestimate him at first and think he is weak and can´t play. Having teams think this will be a big strength of his. I didn´t think his ball screen IQ was so big at first, but it is. He is very mature on and off the court. I like how he is trying to learn and is always asking questions”, stressed ex Auburn forward Quantez Robertson. I couldn´t reach Derek Raivio, but got his brother Nik and he was amused by the questions about his brothers youthfulness. “Derek is a late bloomer just like my father”, said ex medi Bayreuth guard Nik Raivio. When talking about his youthfulness, you get the impression that it has been a topic that he has been confronted with more than once in his life. “I get baby face all the time”, smiled Matt McQuaid. Matt McQuaid has that youthfulness, but the versatile game that Nobody can afford to Underestimate.
McQuaid is a 23 year old 193cm guard from Ducanville, Texas that is playing his rookie campaign with the Fraport Skyliners. He began his basketball career at Duncanville High School that also produced ex NBA player Greg Ostertag of the Utah Jazz . If he ever would meet ex Skyliner Isaac Bonga, they could exchange Lebron stories, because both have been on the court with him. Ok so Bonga was his teammate with the LA Lakers, while McQuaid took part at the Lebron James skills academy, but had the pleasure of catching a Lebron lob and making the lay up. In his senior year at Duncanville High School, he was able to up his stats a bit from the previous year averaging 17.8ppg, 9rpg. He was able to improve his scoring and rebounding averages each season and shot 40% or better twice at Michigan State. He never averaged double figures in scoring, but came very close as a senior playing 36 games averaging 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 81.0%. He won two Big 10 tournaments including the 2019 version 65-60 over arch rival Michigan where he had a sensational 27 points on 7 three´s and reached the NCAA tournament each season and topped off his stellar career with a Final 4 visit losing to Texas Tech where he netted 12 points in the losing cause. Overall he had a positive 6-4 NCAA tournament record. The American is content with having had the opportunity to play at Michigan State and how his game developed further. “Being able to play at Michigan State really helped me become a good defender and really was important for helping my overall game”, stated Matt McQuaid. He was able to show his offensive spectrum in the massive 65-60 win over Michigan where he dropped 27 points and demonstrated just how lethal his shooting can be. “That was a tough game. Michigan was always leading and then my roommate Kyle Ahrens got hurt. It wasn´t just my effort of 27 points, but the whole team stepped up and rallied as a team. It was big winning the Big 10 final”, remembered Matt Mcquaid.It wasn´t only his hard work on the court and in the gym that helped him develop further as a player, but also the crucial guidance by Basketball Hall of fame head coach Tom Izzo who has been at Michigan State since 1995 and won the 2000 NCAA tournament, reached 8 NCAA Final 4´s and has produced countless NBA players like Draymond Green or Alan Anderson over thee years. “He taught me preparation. He is a guy that showed his love, passion and emotion for the game each day. You could feel it. He motivated you to get better. He is a great coach, but an even better person”, warned Matt Mcquaid. He won´t only remember his ex coach Izzo in the NCAA, but also 2019 #1 NBA draft Pick Zion Williamson who was the toughest beast he ever faced. “I was switched on to him in a game. He is huge. It was crazy”, smiled Matt McQuaid.
The American got an early taste of the NBA playing NBA Summer League a few months ago with the Detroit Pistons where he did get into 4 games, but played only a disappointing and meager 8 minutes in total attempting two shots and pulling down a rebound. Despite not playing much and not being able to leave a real mark, he felt that the experience was worth it. “It was a good experience for me. I was able to learn more about the game and was around really talented guys. I was able to take a lot from the experience”, stated Matt McQuaid. He was also fortunate to have been reunited with ex Michigan State teammate 206cm forward Matt Costello who was a senior when he was a freshman. Costello may only be 26 years of age, but has seen the ropes having played in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, with two G-league organizations and in Italy and recently signed with Herbalife Gran Canaria (Spain ACB). McQuaid couldn´t have been more fortunate to be reunited again with his ex teammate. “It was great being teammates with him again. He was like a big brother and took care of me at Michigan State. He showed me how to correctly take care of my body”, stressed Matt McQuaid. The NBA might just be a tad to soon for the sniper. But with a few years more experience in Europe and also learning a different kind of basketball might just grant him another opportunity for the NBA down the road.
But that is why there is opportunity overseas to simply get better. He turned professional with the Fraport Skyliners in the very competitive easyCredit BBL belonging to the top 10 leagues in Europe. He has only been in Frankfurt a few weeks and quickly got a taste of how one celebrates as he witnessed the Fraport Skyliners 20 year anniversary. It was an extremely hot and muggy day where one really thought that one was locked in a unopenable Finish Sauna. With many activities in the city where fans could be involved and then nice food and dancing in the evening, the American was introduced to German culture, but there is still one German cuisine specialty that he hasn´t tasted yet. “I have gotten a good impression of Germany since I have been here. I´m getting used to the culture, food and people. So far it has been a cool experience. I haven´t tried Wiener Schnitzel yet, but that is definitely a topic I need to get into”, smiled Matt McQuaid. On the court the American is obviously getting adjusted to a new league and style and has shown flashes of brilliance. When I asked Fraport Skyliner captain Quantez Robertson which NBA player´s game is similar to Matt McQuaid´s, he took a longer pause and then chuckled “A more athletic Kyle Korver”. When I asked McQuaid the same question, he first tried to squirm out of the question, but then agreed with his teammate. He has shown in pre season that he can shoot the ball, but he was never that dominate scorer in the NCAA, but he didn´t have to be, because he had enough teammates who took that role. He feels like he doesn´t have to be that big scorer now as a professional. “I don´t think about having to score. For me it is most important is be doing everything for the win and helping the team be successful”, warned Matt McQuaid. Captain Tez Robertson will respect this mindset of Mcquaid, but the ex Auburn(NCAA) standout also knows that the rookie will be scoring this season on a regular basis. “He won´t have a problem scoring this season. He can shoot the ball very well and also get to the rim. But what people don´t know yet is how well his drive and finishing is. He will score a lot in double figures this season”, warned Quantez Robertson.
Another big strength in his game is his defensive qualities. This is a trait that fits perfectly to this season´s Skyliner´s team. The Fraport Skyliner´s have had that defensive identity for years under head coach Gordon Herbert, but last season the club underachieved giving up way too many points. New head coach Sebastian Gleim puts a lot of pride into playing excellent defense and with defensive experts like Quantez Robertson, Shaquile Hines, and Anthony Hickey on board, adding a guy like Mcquaid who can defend will give the defense versatility and depth. “I love the game of basketball. I am always studying the game and players and seeing what a players tendencies are and what I can take away. I give my all on each possession”, warned Matt McQuaid. Robertson has been impressed so far with the defensive qualities of the rookie. “He does a good job fighting through screens and playing very aggressive on ball defense”, stated Quantez Robertson. Another big strength in his game is his basketball IQ. One has noticed already in pre season that he is a fast learner and is very good at reading the defense which has helps him make the right decisions quickly. He was lucky having been able to shape his IQ at Michigan State. “Coach Izzo always said to make the right play”, said Matt McQuaid. That seems to have stayed with the Texas native. Also Robertson has noticed that the rookie has been taught basketball the right way at Michigan State. “He has a pretty good IQ for a rookie. He reads ball screens well and coming off screens is ready to defend. He will get even better as the year progresses”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
He has many strengths, but also things that he needs to work on like every other player. Granted he has an amazing shot. ESPN´s Jeff Goodman stated that McQuaid was the best pure shooter in the NCAA last season with an NBA trigger and NBA plus range, but has flaws like being a bit undersized and lacking good speed to take the defender off the dribble. I saw him flaunting a very nice and rapid first step as he took a Heidelberg player off the dribble finishing with a floater. One sees that despite having flaws on the scouting report, he is working on his deficiencies and making progress. He also knows other aspects of his game that he needs to improve at. “I need to work on the pick and roll on offense as well as the spacing and speed of the European game”, warned Matt McQuaid. The American has a lot of veterans on the squad and also knows exactly to whom he can go to for the extra work, inspiration and answers to weaknesses in his game. “I think I will help him with playing defense without using his hands. Also I will help him with knowing when to recognize the week side defense better”, stressed Quantez Robertson. It is a long season and it will be interesting to see just how well he will fit into the rotation offensively and defensively. The club will be a lot better defensive team this season than last which the club has demonstrated with the quality of new players that have been reeled in as well as the basketball philosophy that head coach Sebastian Gleim has preached so far in the pre season. Offensively he will definitely have his moments especially on nights when shots aren´t falling for a Lamont Jones, Quantez Robertson or Anthony Hickey. The American will be just fine and will fit fine to the Fraport Skyliners family. Even if he will be turning 24 years old soon and looks more like a young teenage version of a Justin Bieber, the rugged basketball men of the easyCredit BBL will notice sooner than later that he plays a lot older than he looks and has that special versatility that nobody dare will be able to overlook.