Freshman guard Quinton Rose first dunked a basketball when he was in the eighth grade.
Rose was playing in an American Athletic Union basketball game in Ohio when the opportunity presented itself.
“I got on the fastbreak,” Rose said, “And I figured, ‘Why not try?’”
He’s been a dunker ever since.
Rose said he used to average five dunks per game in high school. The player he models his game after is Toronto Raptors all-star guard DeMar DeRozan, who competed in the 2010 and 2011 NBA Slam Dunk contests and has been known to throw down some acrobatic jams in his NBA career.
Twenty games into his first college season, Rose has been putting together his own highlight reel. There’s been a number of alley-oops and fastbreak dunks, but one stands out from the rest for Rose.
During a Jan. 4 game against Southern Methodist, Rose took off from a few feet inside the paint, cocked his arm back and threw down a rim-rattling dunk over a Mustangs defender.
Instead of shock or amazement at the tremendous feat of athleticism, the reaction from Rose’s teammates was, “Finally.”
“Sometimes he goes up there and tries to lay it up,” sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. said. “It was good to see him dunk one time and convert it. I think there’s going to be more dunks to come. It was fun to watch.”
Rose hasn’t started any of Temple’s 20 games this season, but he has provided a scoring boost for the Owls coming off the bench. Rose is averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game.
He often uses his athleticism and wiry 6-foot-8-inch frame to score in transition.
“I’m really comfortable being out on the break,” Rose said. “I feel like that’s the thing I do best.”
Rose has reached double-figure scoring totals in 10 games this season.
He thrived in the spotlight during Temple’s semifinal win against Florida State University in the Preseason National Invitation Tournament at the Barclays Center, scoring 26 points in his fifth career game.
During the first half of Temple’s 81-62 win against East Carolina on Jan. 7, Rose scored eight points in less than a minute and a half. He finished the game with 14 points in 18 minutes of action.
“He’s a scorer,” coach Fran Dunphy said after the win against East Carolina. “He can really put points on the board.”
When Temple recruited Rose, it looked like there wouldn’t be much room for him in the Owls’ backcourt.
Redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle, senior guard Josh Brown, sophomore guard Trey Lowe and Alston appeared poised to handle Temple’s guard duties and play most of the minutes.
“I didn’t see myself playing this much early,” Rose said. “But I knew that playing against those guys, practicing against those guys … I was going to get better and develop, so then when it’s my turn I’ll be ready to do what I’m supposed to do.”
With Lowe redshirting and Brown’s status questionable before the start of the season, it became clear that Rose would play a significant role for the Owls during the 2016-17 season.
“Throughout the course of practice, [Dunphy] would tell me, ‘Oh you gotta be ready because we’re expecting a lot out of you this year,’” Rose said. “And that’s what happened.”
In March 2016, Rose traveled to Mannheim, Germany with fellow freshman guard Alani Moore II and other players 18 years and younger to represent the United States at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament.
Rose averaged 14.6 points per game during six tournament games. He said the experience helped prepare him for his role this season.
“We were away for about two weeks,” Rose said. “Away from home, across the country, you couldn’t really talk to your family. It helped me mature a lot. And over the trip, me and Alani got a lot closer.”
Rose was Temple’s highest-rated recruit in last year’s class.
As a senior at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, New York, Rose averaged 23 points and six rebounds per game. ESPN.com rated him a four-star recruit, while Rivals.com gave him a three-star rating.
Alston was in the same situation as Rose last season — a talented freshman playing a lot of minutes. He gave Rose some advice before the start of the season and it has been paying off.
“I told him, ‘No pressure at all, just come in, play your game,’” Alston said. “I think that’s what he’s been doing. He’s been coming in and playing his game and he’s been playing the right way. I think that’s a big thing for him is to just come in and do what he did in high school.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.