Two years after his graduation and playing professional basketball overseas in Israel this past year, Quincy Wadley still feels a close bond with Temple University.
His season with his Israeli team, Hapoelev Lev Hasharon, was cut short due to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
So after seven months of being away his family and the U.S., Wadley is ecstatic to be home.
“It is definitely a good feeling to just touch the ground in America, after being over in Israel for that time,” Wadley said.
Before Temple’s NIT quarterfinal game with Minnesota last Thursday, Wadley admitted he had butterflies – as if he was about to play that night.
Wadley knows a little about playing in big games.
He played on two Owl teams that made it as far as the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and 2001.
As a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Wadley averaged 11.3 points over his career, including 15.1 points his senior year.
Still, he had jitters while watching the current Temple team duke it out with Minnesota.
“Coming out here today and seeing them play, I actually got nervous, and I didn’t get nervous when I played,” he said.
“But seeing them, I really got nervous. It just shows you how attached I am to Temple University.
“It’s just a great atmosphere, and I missed it so much. Everything that Temple has to offer from the great alumni to the students to the fans.”
Wadley takes some solace being back home and closer to his friends and family after spending the last seven months in the Middle East, which is vulnerable to terrorist attacks on civilians and fraught with political turmoil.
“It is random and a majority of the time it’s so far removed from you that it never happens,” he said.
“But when it gets close it still really don’t bother you because you got enough crime going in America. Enough things going on in my neighborhood, so something like that is something I don’t really worry about.”
Since the prospect of war was something totally out of his control, Wadley said he tried to focus on playing basketball most of the time.
With the threat of war imminent, Wadley caught a flight out of Israel and back to Philadelphia two weeks ago.
He was on hand to see the Owls beat Drexel, then lose in a valiant effort to Minnesota.
Wadley’s popularity was more than noticeable.
Throughout both games he attended, alumni, students, and even Bill Cosby extended their warmest regards.
The affable Wadley even drew attention from a few of the officials, who went out of their way during breaks in the games to speak with him.
“It’s just a great overall feeling,” Wadley said of the adoration he has received.
“Seeing all the love I get from all the people, it makes me feel really good.”
The one person he has not been able to really speak to is his former coach, John Chaney.
Wadley said that due to Chaney’s taxing schedule for preparing the Owls in the NIT, the two have yet to really sit down and talk.
During the Minnesota game, Wadley was constantly shouting encouragement and instruction to the Owls.
After the Owls had recovered from a four-point deficit with under a minute to go in regulation to force overtime, Wadley scurried over to their side of the bench and was on the court high-fiving players.
Now that he is back, Wadley plans on staying in the U.S. and working on his game.
In a few weeks, he will be playing in the United States Basketball League, a lower-tier semi-pro league.
After that, Wadley will attempt to hook up with an NBA summer league squad.
Jason Haslam can be reached at email@example.com.