Following a Legend
A Q + A with Quinton Hosley.
The sneaking suspicion is that Quinton Hosley was born to play ball. His father, Ronald Mathius, of Rucker Park fame, is considered one of the finest to emanate from the NYC playgrounds, and the word is his mother Hazel wasn’t too shabby on the hardwood either. Hosley was a JuCo All-American at Lamar Community College in Colorado (where he was a roommate and teammate of yours truly) and then continued his rise at Fresno State, where he was a two-time second-team All-WAC selection in 2006 and ’07.
After killing in the Turkish League last season, Q made the jump to Real Madrid in the Euroleague this year, and the Harlem native is loving life in the world’s second-best competition. I recently had a chance to catch up with Q to talk about the influence his father had on his career, life in Europe, his motivation to play in the NBA and his hopes for the future.
SLAM: Tell me about your Dad (Ronald Mathius) as a player.
Quinton Hosley: He played in some minor leagues (including the CBA) in the States, and he played up in Canada too. He was a tough player, he averaged a lot of points—I think at his JuCo he averaged like 40 per game. I’m not sure how many points he averaged in the different leagues that he played in, but I know at one point in the CBA he was up there among the all-time scoring leaders. I don’t know if he’s still up there anymore but I know he was.
SLAM: But he’s mostly known from his play on the streets, right?
QH: Yeah, in the streets he’s kind of a legend. He’s got nine Rucker Park championships, which is the most anyone has won up at the Rucker. I won my first Rucker Park championship a couple of summers back, so I’ve got ways to go catch him (laughs).
SLAM: Your Dad, from all reports, was someone who had enormous potential as a player. Not all of it, for various reasons, was filled. Does that give you determination as you embark on your career?
QH: I think it does, and it doesn’t, at the same time. I don’t look at it like ‘I have to do it [make the NBA], because he didn’t.’ I would love to do it, because it’s something that I want to do. I never want to make it seem like I’m trying to make it just for him. I know if I made it I know he’d be happy, and I’m striving to get over that hump.
SLAM: What influence does he have on you at the moment? I’m sure he talks to you a lot about your career.
QH: Yeah, we talk a lot. He talks to me about the situation that I’m in right now; he lets me know that he’s been in a situation like that, where you’re not the main scoring focus and you’ve got to keep grinding it out. His saying is ‘The cream always rises to the top’ so he tells me ‘Don’t worry about it, you’re cream, you’ll rise to the top’ and whatever I do I’m just going to keep striving to build for better success. I went from a poor team in Turkey to playing for one of the best clubs (Real Madrid) on the planet, and there’s more to build upon from here. That’s what I strive for every day.
SLAM: Tell me about the on-court adjustment – rules, competition, and physicality – of playing in Europe.
QH: You have to really emphasize on really putting the ball down; you have to put the ball down first or they call traveling. So that’s one thing that took me a while to get used to. As far as the physicality of it, I mean, it’s not too tough. The Euroleague play is a little more physical than the Spanish league per say and it varies from league to league in Europe. I know the Greek league is supposed to be the most physical league in all of Europe. Of all the venues that we play at, they let you play more physical in some places.
SLAM: What is your role at Real Madrid?
QH: My coach [Joan Plaza] didn’t really give me a specific role, but I can kind of see the role that he wants me to do. He wants me to be a slasher; to defend 3s, 2s, 1s, on-ball, off-ball, help-side; and then get out and run the floor, to finish at the basket. He doesn’t want me taking too many jump shots. You know, just things like that.
SLAM: Tell me about the off-court adjustment—language, lifestyle and living conditions—of being in Europe.
QH: In Turkey (last season)…now that was a struggle, because my life was in three areas: I went home, I went to practice and I went to the supermarket, which was in the mall. That was my whole life. The language, I really didn’t learn that much, I really didn’t do that much; everything was centered, more or less, around basketball.
In Spain, the off-court stuff is great. You can go out, there are great places to eat, and they’ve got movies that play in English. Madrid is a very big city and there are a lot of people that speak English. Spanish is a little easier for me to pick up, too. I like it a lot better than Turkey, I’m glad to be here.
SLAM: With Josh Childress and Brandon Jennings bolting to Europe, and with Ricky Rubio potentially a lottery pick, is it an exciting time to be playing the Euroleague?
QH: It is. It’s definitely exciting to be playing in Europe. I think more now than before, guys who play in the NBA are not looking at Europe as a place they don’t want to go, but as a place that has options. If they don’t get what they want, or what they feel their value is worth is in the States, then they will go overseas.
I think now, it’s easier for guys to do it. If you look at the technology now, it’s a lot easier. You have Skype—I can see my family and talk to them on the computer for free. The flights—players make enough money where they can pay to fly their families back and forth. A lot of times the players are by themselves, so it’s great.
By living overseas you don’t have to put up with the lifestyle that a lot of NBA guys deal with. There’s not that image thing where you’ve got to have this certain kind of car, or a flashy earrings, jewels and all that. A lot of guys who first come into the league, a rookie or your second year, try to keep up with a lot of the veterans who are doing those things. Their money is a lot longer than yours; you can get financial trouble or difficulties, and you are just one injury or one false move from being out of the league. And now what are you going to do? You got caught up, and you’ll be messed up.
SLAM: What are you doing, as a player, to try to get to the next level?
QH: Well, for me, I have to be more consistent and to assert myself more. And this year, with this team, it’s been a lot different for me because in past years and the teams I played for I’ve been the key focus on offense and the leading scorer, the leading rebounder, but more so with this team I’m just filling in a role. I may not even be the second or third option, I might be the fourth or fifth option because our team is so deep, so I’ve just been trying to work on doing all the intangibles: Rebounding, locking up on defense, getting some steals when I can, and trying to make an impact while I’m in the game the best that I can. That’s been my key focus this year.
SLAM: What is your motivation at the moment?
QH: You go out there to compete, so that you’re better than the person you’re competing against. I think that’s my biggest motivation.
SLAM: What about the NBA?
QH: The NBA, it’s a dream of mine—I would love to play there. I probably could’ve played for a team somewhere, but as far as the money-wise and the situation it was best for me to go overseas and establish a financial situation for myself and my family. I think I made the better move, rather than me trying to make a team, potentially getting cut and leaving a lot of money on the table. So that was part of the reason I tried to go back to Europe and I signed my contract early to play with Madrid.
SLAM: Five years from now, Quinton Hosley hopes to be…
QH: Happy. That’s straight to the point—to be happy. Whether that’s in the NBA, or second division somewhere in some country, or even at home, I just want to be happy, with my family, and of course, talking to my mates! (Laughs).