During the summer before his senior season, Quenton DeCosey immersed himself in the sport he fell in love with at five years old after watching Michael Jordan in “Space Jam.”
With the departure of leading scorer Will Cummings, DeCosey knew he would need to shoulder the load offensively for the Owls in 2015-16.
Instead of going home to Union, New Jersey for half the summer, the senior guard stayed on campus where he took classes in the mornings then conditioned and worked out at the Owls’ practice facility in Pearson Hall.
After he was finished, DeCosey and his teammates played pickup on the third floor of Pearson against local players who had returned home from college for the summer.
“Just basketball all day after you finished your school work,” DeCosey said.
The games, which recreated high school matchups and pinned former teammates against each other, included former Owls like Cummings, Ramone Moore and Scootie Randall and other talents like ex-Oregon University and Providence College player Brandon Austin and University of Massachusetts alum Maxie Esho.
“This was like the mecca for pickup runs in the summer,” DeCosey said.
“It’s always going to be competitive when you have a lot of talented guys in the gym,” he added. “Everybody’s going to compete hard, and I think that’s what got our team better.”
This season DeCosey leads the Owls in scoring at 16 points per game, which ranks third in the American Athletic Conference. He was named conference player of the week on Jan. 11 and has been on The American’s weekly honor roll four times since Jan. 18.
Senior forward Jaylen Bond said DeCosey has taken his game to another level this year in pursuit of bringing the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since his freshman season in 2012-13.
“Coming into this year, we felt like for us to make our goal of being in the tournament, we both had to play our best basketball,” Bond said. “That’s what we’ve been doing throughout this whole year.”
After picking Temple following a high school career at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, DeCosey played in 28 games for the Owls, averaging 1.9 PPG. His role expanded during the next two seasons as he started 65 of Temple’s 68 games during that stretch.
DeCosey was third on the team in scoring at 15.4 PPG in his sophomore season. He finished second on the team in scoring at 12.3 PPG last year. He’s led the team in scoring 12 times this season.
“Freshman year I kind of took a backseat,” DeCosey said. “I didn’t see a lot of minutes. I was pretty much learning from the older guys. The next two years I feel like I kind of developed into the player I am now.”
“Stepping into the leadership role, leading the team in scoring, being the go-to-guy puts more responsibility and pressure on you, but that’s what comes with being the go-to-guy,” he added. “I feel like I was prepared this year.”
While he continues to look at videos of Jordan for inspiration in his offensive moves, DeCosey has recently found himself studying clips of Houston Rockets four-time all-star James Harden.
He implemented Harden’s moves to get buckets late in two of the Owls’ biggest wins this season—Tulsa and Connecticut.
“Anytime I get an isolation play,” DeCosey said of when he uses Harden’s moves. “Like UConn where I made the crazy shot … and also against Tulsa, the one play where I had the and-one, just walking the man down, that’s something I took from James Harden.”
DeCosey scored the Owls’ final nine points in the win against UConn, when he scored 23 points. He’s reached 20 points or more in nine games this season, and the Owls are 8-1 in those contests.
“It’s big,” Bond said of his teammate’s scoring ability. “He’s the type of guy we can go to just to get a bucket for us. We can isolate him anywhere on the court looking for him to get a basket.”
With four regular season games remaining in his college career, DeCosey said it would be a little more special this time around if he can bring his team to the NCAA tournament.
“It would mean everything to me,” DeCosey said. “When we made the tournament my freshman year, I didn’t really contribute a lot like I would have wanted to. Me being the guy this year, trying to lead our team back to the NCAA Tournament, to be able to make a run would mean a lot.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.