‘Quis’ enters the unknown
YSU sophomore declares for NBA Draft, seeks feedback
The date stamp on Darius Quisenberry’s Twitter post read: 6:22 p.m., Thursday.
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball player thanked God, family, teammates and coaches and declared he has put his name into the 2020 NBA Draft.
He remains a student-athlete. He couldn’t talk on Thursday night. His online classes took precedence.
Quisenberry, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound guard, was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 12 second team (Horizon League and Summit League players) and first-team Horizon League. He is the first player in school history to earn league honors his first two seasons.
Quisenberry averaged 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He shot 79.2 percent from the free-throw line.
He had a career-high 41 points in a dominating performance as YSU defeated regular-season league champion Wright State in Youngstown. He has 990 points after two seasons.
Quisenberry is focused on constant improvement. That won’t change whether he stays in the draft or comes back to YSU for his junior season.
“No matter what, it’s going to make you hungrier regardless of what happens,” he said. “I’m going to have the same mindset. I’ve always been working. My dad (Richard) has installed that in me from day one. Regardless of what happens, if I get drafted or not, I’m going to work and go through the process.”
Quisenberry has been in constant contact with YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun, whose team went 18-15 this past season, along with the Penguins compliance office to make sure he’s following all protocols with the NCAA to remain eligible.
“Me and my coach talked about it,” Quisenberry said. “It’s always been my dream to play at that level, the NBA. Take care of my family. That’s always the main goal. Family first. If I have a chance to take care of them, I’ll obviously do it.”
According to the NCAA, athletes have until 11:59 p.m., June 3, to decide whether they are going to stay in the draft or come back to school.
“I decided to keep my eligibility and not get an agent if I don’t get drafted or things of that sort,” Quisenberry said. “I can always come back. You’ve always got to have a Plan B. That’s where I’m at right now.”
Calhoun has connections to the NBA. One of his former assistant coaches at Fairmont State, Joe Mazzulla, who took over for Calhoun when he left for YSU, is an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Calhoun said of Quisenberry’s decision. “I think what the NBA and college has done is to let these kids to get an evaluation and see where these kids are at to give them plenty of time to come back to school and make a good decision if they don’t want to stay in the draft.
“Obviously, Darius has had two tremendous years. I’m excited what kind of feedback that he gets from the NBA. That’s part of the process. That’s why you file the paperwork, put your name in the draft to see where you stand. I think he’s earned that right. I’ll be anxious to see what kind of feedback they give him.”
NBA teams may contact Calhoun, who will contact Quisenberry, starting April 28 for workouts or interviews. Because of the current stay-at-home order by Gov. DeWine through April because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, live evaluations may not happen prior to the NBA Draft on June 25 in New York City.
Players like Quisenberry can get feedback until June 3.
“They’re basically going off of game film because they can’t have workouts right now — your two best games, two average and two worst, just get a full evaluation of you,” Quisenberry said. “They’ll probably watch some more games as well if they’re interested in you. If they are, they’ll call your head coach and your head coach will call you. They’ll talk to you from there. They’ll probably give you some things you can improve on, things they really like about you, things that can help you raise your stock in the draft.”
The YSU guard is ready for any praise or criticism. For him, it’s about improvement.
“I like all feedback,” Quisenberry said. “Any feedback is good because you can learn from everything, good and bad. All constructive criticism is good. I’m not looking just for good feedback, but I’m also looking for bad.
“You want to raise your level of game. You don’t want to stay average. You want to keep growing. So having that goal and mindset of whatever they say, take it on the chin if it’s good or bad.”
The YSU coaching staff is keeping in contact with Quisenberry throughout this process, helping him out in any way the can.
“There’s a lot of people in my corner throughout this process,” Quisenberry said. “On my end, I have to stay on my guard. Just keep grinding. Try to stay in the gym as much as I can. If workouts do come, I’m ready and I’m sharp. Right now, gyms are limited.
“I’m in the gym working, which I’m very blessed to have a gym I can go to at this place where my dad trains these little kids at, so I can get in there. If I can get workouts there, then I’m ahead of the game because some guys can’t even get in the gym.”
Quisenberry said his teammates support him in this endeavor with plenty of social media good wishes and talking to them on his phone.
“They love it,” he said. “They all told me good luck. They told me they love me and things like that and that sort. They told me to go get it. They’ll be with me 100 percent all the way. Whatever happens, happens.
“They’re fully with me.”
Calhoun said this process can only help Quisenberry.
“There comes a point with this type of player, I think you have to see what are the things I have to improve on,” Calhoun said. “Where do I stand with the rest of the country in regards to the NBA Draft? I think it’s been his dream to play in the NBA. That’s something he worked really hard at.
“I would never, ever hold a kid back or say this is not a good thing. I know 100 percent this is a good thing.”