Quinton Hooker(Falco-Vulcano Energia KC Szombathely) Stepping Up On The Defensive End Has Been a Big Focus

Quinton Hooker is a 24 year old 183cm guard from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota playing his third professional season and first with Falco-Vulcano Energia KC Szombathely (Hungary-A Division) currently averaging 9,7ppg, 2,6rpg and 3,0apg in Hungary and 8,7ppg, 3,7rpg and 3,1apg in the BCL. Last season he played with Jean D’Arc Vichy Clermont Metropole (France-ProB) playing 36 games averaging 12.1ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.1apg, Steals-5 (1.6spg), FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 81.7%. As a rookie he played with GTK Gliwice (Poland-PLK) playing 31 games averaging 15.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 5.0apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.8%. He played at University of North Dakota (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 124 NCAA games and had brilliant statistical seasons as a junior and senior averaging 20.1ppg, 4.9rpg, 3.5apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 85.8% and 19.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.6apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 86.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Basketball Champions League game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in Bonn.

Quinton thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time to Germany? What has been your overall impression of the country and it’s basketball over the years?

This is my first time in Germany. I know that it is a top and competitive league in Europe. 

After playing your first two professional seasons in Poland and France your now playing your first season in international club competition. You have been to Greece, Turkey and Italy to name just a few. You have seen so many new countries within a period of 3 months. Was there a place that stood out for you?

That’s a tough question, but if I had to chose one it would have to be Spain. I have visited Barcelona before. The country in general was very nice. 

Your playing your first season with Falco-Vulcano Energia KC Szombathely (Hungary-A Division). What kind of experience has it been wearing their jersey and are the expectations high to defend their first ever club title?

Coming off a title season and now playing in the Basketball Champions League and playing well, there has been pressure on us from the organization, but in a right way. We all want to win. We have the capabilities to win. We just have to take it one day at a time. 

How would compare the league to the other two leagues you have played in in Poland and France in terms of style and player talent?

Playing in the Hungarian league, each game is a battle. There are good imports in this league and the teams overall are deep. 

The club has been playing very well in the Hungarian A-League and in the Basketball Champions League mainly with many new faces. What has been the secret to the success of the team?

We knew coming in that it would be difficult playing in two competitions. The coaching staff put confidence in us early and we haven’t lacked any. We gelled early as a team and we all want to win. Also not having been selfish as a team has helped us as well. We go out there thinking that we can win each game. 

Let’s talk a little about your teammates. How appreciative have you been of teammate Juvonte Reddic? How has he made your job a lot easier on the court?

It is great having a big guy like him on board. He has shown dominance in both leagues. He is always ready each night. I can always trust him that he will be in the right position. I feel he doesn’t get the right amount of credit for his basketball IQ. He always gets the team going as well. 

How important has the signing of Ron Curry Been? How vital has the fact been that this is his second tour of duty with this team?

The addition of Ron Curry has been huge for us. He has a lot of experience and played in Hungary has been important. He brings another winning mentality to the team. His biggest asset that he can always get a bucket or a stop on defense. He has fit in with the team right away.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 183cm point guard that can do a lot on the court. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

Being a 6 foot point guard I Have been compared to many point guards. Guys from the past that I have been compared has been Chauncey Billiups and Andre Miller. Now I get compared to guys like Fred Van Fleet and Jahmeer Nelson. 

I have to ask you about your outside shooting. You have been shooting the ball well in the last few years as a senior at North Dakota and last season in France. This season you are shooting out the lights in Hungry, but poorly in the Basketball Champions League. What has annoyed you most about your current shooting accuracy?

The difference is consistency. It is frustrating not having the consistency in both leagues. I just take it game by game. I know that I will hit shots and miss shots, but no matter what I always have that confidence that I will hit every shot I take. Being able to be a good shooter, you have to have that mental trust. 

How much pride do you take on playing defense? What do you do on a regular basis in practice to continue to increase your defensive performance?

Being able to step it up on the defensive end has been a big focus for me this season. I have to give a lot of credit to coach who has challenged me to make the next step. He has pushed me to get better on racing around screens or in the full court. The coaching staff does a good job pushing the whole team. I also try to push everyone in practice. I go harder in practice so other guys can react.

Last season you played with Jean D’Arc Vichy Clermont Metropole (France-ProB) playing 36 games averaging 12.1ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.1apg, Steals-5 (1.6spg), FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 81.7%. You finished the season losing 2 tough games to Gries/Oberhoffen. Why couldn’t the team close out those games?

It was a tough series. It came down to a close home game loss at their place. It was tough losing our home game on a final second shot. The loss took the energy away from us. It was tough losing like that and then playing on the road and losing in a tough environment. They were the type of team that played lights out at home. We were fighting to survive, but they made more shots.

As a rookie you played with GTK Gliwice (Poland-PLK) playing 31 games averaging 15.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 5.0apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.8%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home?

My wake up call to being a rookie in Europe happened around November/December when I realized that the season is a long one. I realized at that point that I wasn’t going to get a break. You have to take the good with the bad. I realized that not many have the opportunity to live the dream of being a professional player. 

How important was it having fellow rookie Jonathan Williams on your side. Was the whole adjustment period as a rookie easier because you had him on your side?

Having him and Maverick Morgan made going through the rookie process a lot easier. We figured things out together. We got each other through everything.

You had a massive 40 point double double game and with a little more luck with the bounces and rebounds could have had a triple double against BM Slam Stal, but lost the game 96-94. After doing so much on the scoring front how much did it hurt losing this game?

That game was a tough one to lose. It was near the end of the season. We had won something like 6 or 7 games in a row and making a push for the playoffs, after having a bad start. It would have been a big win for us. 

You played at North Dakota University (NCAA) from 2013-2017. Not many guys have made the professional ranks. Have you been aware of Harry Boyce who carved out a nice career in Germany?

Yes I had seen pics of Harry Boyce at the university. We haven’t had too many guys that have went the professional way, but in the last years and now we have been trying to change that.

You averaged 20 and 19 points as a junior and senior. Did you develop a chip on your shoulder after putting up numbers like that? Do you feel like the Big Sky Conference is underrated?

Yes I do feel the conference is underrated. There are a lot of good mid major programs in the conference. The conference is very competitive and schools beating non conference schools. There have been quite a few players that have gone to professional careers. Because of this, I have had a chip on my shoulder and so have many other players in the conference. 

I would have thought after your very strong rookie season in Poland that you would have been taken by clubs in higher leagues in Europe. Has this fact motivated you to keep grinding harder and harder as a professional?

Yes of course. After having a good season in France Pro B and now playing in the BCL and being able to continue to develop is very important. I feel that the whole development process isn’t always seen on the stat sheet. Being on a winning team now and playing in the BCL has made me continue to keep pushing hard. I know that this season is another huge opportunity for me. 

How vital was the small point guard senior Aaron Anderson when you were a freshman for your game? Did his pesky play prepare you well for the kind of adversity you can get on the court at the NCAA level?

I learned a lot from Aaron Just learning from him day to day was important especially how to keep body and mind right. He didn’t only show me the ropes, but also pushed me to help me get to that next level. He also did a good job integrating me into the team. 

You had so many great games in the NCAA. You had a triple double against Idaho State and scorched Weber State and Portland State for 38 points. Which of these games was your most memorable?

That is a tough question, but I think my most memorable game was the triple double game. That was the first triple double in school history. And being able to achieve it at home made it that much more special. But the most memorable moment was going to the NCAA tournament. 

In your last NCAA game you lost to Arizona, but netted 25 points against future NBA players Rawle Alkins, Kadeem Allen, Alonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen holding your own against them. Do you feel like you got noticed after this game?

I think I did. I played well. After I got 3 NBA pre draft workouts with the Timberwolves, Raptors and Rockets. It really helped my situation. It also showed that a guy from North Dakota could play well against top level competition. 

How did head coach Brian Jones groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

He did an amazing job. He had a big influence on me in being able to grow and get better each year. He gave me insight and expectations to lead the team and help make other players paly at my level. I was also fortunate to have great assistant coaches. 

Who won a one on one back in the day you or Aaron Anderson?

I have to go with me. He will say himself. We had many battles and he may have got me a few times, but I edged him out. It was always competitive

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA?

Alonzo Trier of the New York Knicks. He is a walking bucket. People overlooked him going into the NBA Draft. 

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Devin Buckley, Carson Shanks, Geno Craddle, Aaron Anderson and Juvonte Reddic. 

If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads past or present would you take?

Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Chauncey Billiups. 

What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

It is tough to debate. I never saw Jordan play live and seeing a player play in person is always different. I have to take Lebron James.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Game Night.

Thanks Quinton for the chat.

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