Washington's Pondexter Follows His Father's Advice, Not Footsteps
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Washington senior Quincy Pondexter didn't really need to get a lot of different opinions on whether to declare early for the NBA Draft last season. All he had to do was reflect on his father's experiences.
Roscoe Pondexter entered the draft after his junior season at Arizona in 1974. He wasn't selected until the third round by the Boston Celtics. He never signed an NBA contract and bounced around professional leagues in Europe and South America.
Roscoe told Quincy that he would never let his son make the same mistake.
"I briefly thought about [declaring last season], I knew I wanted to come back and be one of the leaders of this team this year," Quincy Pondexter said Wednesday. "It's something I couldn't turn down."
Pondexter's leadership has been a big reason for the Huskies' Sweet 16 run. Thursday in the Carrier Dome, they'll play West Virginia with the winner advancing to Saturday's East Region final against either Kentucky or Cornell.
A 6-foot-6 forward, Pondexter leads the Huskies in points (19.7), rebounds (7.5), free throw percentage (83.0), minutes (32.4) and, most likely, also perspective.
That's because Pondexter has heard and read all the stories about his father.
After Roscoe's playing career ended overseas, he was a corrections officer at Corcoran State Prison in central California. In a 1998 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Roscoe disclosed that he was an active participant in prisoner abuse at the facility. So much that he earned a nickname from his fellow officers for the amount of violence he inflicted on prisoners.
Roscoe's nickname? "Bonecrusher."
"A lot of things I did then I would never do now," Roscoe Pondexter told the Times in 1998. "But that's the mentality of the place. That's the socialization. I didn't care if someone got raped or if someone got killed by staff. It was just another day's work. Pushing paper and we're off again. ... Bit by bit, I lost my conscience."
Roscoe also lost his job. In 1999, however, he provided court testimony against his former co-workers in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Then Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian helped Roscoe get a job at Fresno State as an assistant to the athletic director. Roscoe completed his degree and changed his outlook on life.
"I always tell [Quincy] he's better than me," Roscoe told ESPN.com. "Make better choices than I did because I want you to be better than I was, than I am. You can go further than me not only as a basketball player, but as a person and a man."
Quincy said Wednesday his father has influenced him greatly.
"My dad's influence has really carried over throughout my four years [at Washington] in which he left [college] early and it is something that he kind of regretted," Pondexter said. "He's really guided me through this time, through the ups and downs."
Roscoe also influenced his son off the court. Quincy is a rarity in college athletics these days. He has exactly zero tattoos and zero body parts pierced. He also said he's never drank alcohol or smoked.
And he also has the unique experience of performing in the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker last December in Seattle. Want more? In Washington's media guide, it lists the No. 1 song in Pondexter's iPod as "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus.
The 11th-seeded Huskies also have been somewhat of a surprise in the NCAA tournament. Even though they enter Thursday's Sweet 16 contest having won their last nine games and 14 of their last 16, the Huskies were largely considered headed to the NIT until winning the Pac-10 tournament.
"We don't really care about what seed we are as long as we're in the playing field," Pondexter said. "I think the numbers are thrown out the window. We still have to go out there and play no matter what.
"Anyone can be upset. We've seen that in this tournament so far. Throughout this run, I think we have gained a lot of confidence, because we're starting to see us playing right and when that happens, it just gets you anxious to play that next game and continue for it to go on.
"Throughout this time, it's been fun. It's been a blessing and hopefully we can keep it going."
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins realizes the Mountaineers must slow down Pondexter.
"He's a heck of a player and we're going to have to do a great job on him," Huggins said. "I think the thing that makes him so good is he scores in so many different ways. He can face you up and make jump shots.
"He can drive it to the basket either way. He can play in the post. He's a terrific offensive rebounder. It's just there's not a lot of things offensively that he can't do."
West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler played with Pondexter last summer in the 2009 World University Games and knows firsthand the challenge awaiting the Mountaineers.
"He's very talented," Butler said. "He's athletic and can shoot the basketball. And pretty much the only thing that can stop him is if he has a bad night."
Contact FanHouse senior writer Brett McMurphy at firstname.lastname@example.org