Battle scars

Deanna Stevens

Junior Haminn Quaintance has sacrificed his body and time to become a force at center

Junior Haminn Quaintance is finding the shift to center a painful one.

Daniel Owen | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Moving from friends and family in Florida was difficult for junior transfer Haminn Quaintance.

But moving over to the center position was just down right painful.

“I got my nose busted and my teeth knocked out,” Quaintance said. “I’m a beat-up guy, but it’s cool.”

Quaintance, or “Q” as he’s generally referred to, said he was hit in the nose when playing against Buffalo.

He caught an elbow to his mouth from teammate Mike Scott. Four of his teeth fell out. Q, who was initially unable to wear a mouthpiece because of the pain, wore a Rip Hamilton-type mask (or Hannibal Lector, depending on who’s speaking) against Miami. But Q shed the “superhero” mask after a few minutes of play.

“I just had to take that thing off,” Q said. “I figured if I get hit in the mouth, then I get hit. But this thing is ridiculous.”

He now can wear a mouthpiece but is stuck with a wire holding his front four teeth in place for the next six months.

He transferred to Kent State from Jacksonville State last season but was unable to play due to NCAA regulations. While dealing with several injuries during his first season of play with the Flashes, Q has been getting used to his new position.

“I’ve never played center,” Q said. “I don’t consider myself a center. Right now, I’m playing out of position.”

Although he is a forward, Q is getting a lot of respect for his play at center.

“He does a lot of different things on the court,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “When he goes in, he changes the complexion of the game, with his athleticism and his hustle. Those things are valuable.

“In my mind he should be the MAC Defensive Player of the Year because he impacts the game in a lot of different ways.”

This season, Q is averaging 1.6 blocks, (No. 3 in the Mid -American Conference), 1.6 steals (No.8 in the MAC) and 5.3 rebounds (No. 15 in the MAC) per game.

He said his transition to center has been a little easier because he is comfortable playing the type of help defense the team thrives on.

And all these accomplishments are especially impressive, considering his late start to the sport. He didn’t begin playing basketball until midway through his junior year of high school.

“I’m from a football state, you know, the National Champions,” Q said jokingly. “But no one was playing basketball. Basketball just wasn’t the thing to do.”

He played wide receiver until his senior year of high school. But then football became more tedious than fun.

“I was just doing it too much,” Q said. “I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

But he doesn’t anticipate becoming bored with his new sport.

“I really don’t get tired of playing basketball,” Q said. “Like, when the season’s over, I’ll be in the gym two days after that, probably the next day.”

Throughout the season, Q has been working on the post play that comes with playing center.

He often works with coach Christian on his post moves, particularly techniques with his back to the basket.

Christian said the work is starting to pay off.

“His ability to score in the post has continued to develop,” Christian said. “He’s more comfortable there now than he was in the beginning of the year. He’s a little more aggressive than he was. I don’t think he was asked to play down there much, not before he came up here. We still play him all over the court. But that’s the area where he’s developing and continuing to get better.”

Q said he’s starting to feel a little more comfortable at center, but it has been a difficult transition, due to his year off and the injuries.

“He’s still learning,” Christian said. “He’s still getting better. He’s battled through a lot of things. It not easy to overcome all those things and stay focused and keep working hard, but he does. That’s why he’s had a great year.”

Contact men’s basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].