Hard Work Pays Off
Quintin Dove is the OCCAC Player of the Year, an NCAA Division I commit — and he’s only getting started
There were many times when Quintin Dove could have decided enough was enough.
As a junior in high school, he was buried on the bench at Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
As a senior, he transferred to Euclid High School, where he received more playing time but struggled academically.
After high school, he searched for a four-year university that fit his academic needs while offering him a chance to advance his basketball career. He eventually committed to attend Rider University, but it was hundreds of miles away in New Jersey — far from the support of his family.
With hurdles lining all available paths, other young athletes might have reached a breaking point, questioning whether it was worth their while to continue pursuing a collegiate basketball career.
But for Dove, quitting was never an option. A nephew of former Cleveland Rockers player Bonnie Dove, basketball is in his blood.
“Basketball has been a part of my life since I was three years old,” Dove said. “I’ve been playing at the YMCA, recreation centers and schoolyards for as long as I can remember. I knew I was going to find a way to keep playing.”
When Cuyahoga Community College head coach Michael Duncan offered Dove a chance to play for the Challengers, he knew he had found his path. Two years later, his hard work on the court and in the classroom have propelled him to junior college stardom. The sophomore forward is the newly minted OCCAC Player of the Year and has committed to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he’ll play NCAA Division I basketball next season.
“My Tri-C experience has taught me a lot about how to handle the challenges of being a student-athlete in college,” Dove said. “I work a lot with tutors, particularly in math, which isn’t my strong suit. But everyone here is ready and willing to help, whether it’s in the classroom, studying, helping you find a way to balance schoolwork and practice. The help I’ve received here has prepared me for what comes next.”
But before Dove packs his bags for Tennessee, he has some unfinished business at hand. Last year, Dove and the Challengers fell short of the NJCAA Division II national championship, losing in the regional final. This year, they’re in the big dance — four victories away from winning it all.
Dove wants to do everything in his power to help bring a championship banner back to Tri-C.
“We’re really motivated,” he said. “I don’t think our program gets a lot of attention, so we get overlooked. We had the best record in the country this year, but they seeded us third in the national championships, so that’s extra motivation. We felt we deserved the top seed.”
The Challengers play Arkansas State University Mid-South Tuesday afternoon in first-round action. Should Tri-C win, they’ll advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday.
To have a chance at winning the national title, Dove will once again need to find a way to succeed. Armed with a versatile game that allows him to play both near the basket and on the wing, Dove will have to take the reins of the Tri-C offense in critical moments, Duncan said.
“Quintin is very talented, but his demeanor is quieter,” he said. “We’re going to need him to be more vocal, take more of a leadership role, which we know he’s capable of doing.”
Dove is no stranger to adapting on the court. Throughout the regular season, Duncan asked his sophomore star to shoulder a bigger scoring and rebounding load while fellow sophomores Wade Lowman and Devon Robinson recovered from broken wrists.
“Quintin might be the most talented player at the national tournament,” Duncan said. “We know what he can do out there — it’s just a matter of him stepping up and wanting it more than anyone else. When he’s motivated and energized, and our group of sophomores are motivated and energized, the whole team feeds off it.”
Win or lose, Dove will continue to work hard as a student and as a basketball player, utilizing the lessons he has learned at Tri-C wherever his career takes him.
“I want to play basketball professionally one day, whether it’s overseas or here,” Dove said. “What I’ve learned over the past few years is that you need the work ethic to make it happen. I’m going to take the work ethic I learned here to Tennessee with me and see how far I can go. If you’re focused and willing to work hard, good things happen.”
March 19, 2018
Erik Cassano, 216-987-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org