By Robert Wilson
When two-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion Steph Curry – one of the greatest players in NBA history who is considered possibly the game’s best shooter of all time – talks about a player, it speaks volumes.
After Velma Jackson and Mississippi State alumnus Quinndary Weatherspoon made a splash in his debut with Curry’s Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day against the Phoenix Suns, Curry raved about the player they call Q.
“You’ve got to be wired different to come into a situation like tonight and just show what you are about,” said Curry about Weatherspoon who had six points (3 of 3 from the field) with 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot in 14 minutes off the bench as he helped the Warriors defeat the Suns.
“Defensively, he’s made some amazing plays, being at the right place at the right time (against the Suns’ leading scorer Devin Booker, from Moss Point, and all-star point guard Chris Paul). He drove to the basket a couple of times, got to his spots from him, and finished. I have made his presence felt. That’s 14 really good minutes, coming out of G League, straight into a Christmas Day game against the Suns. That’s a big spot. He showed what he’s about.”
The 6-foot-3 Weatherspoon, who had a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs for the past two seasons, was signed by the Warriors and had been playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G League – pro basketball’s version of the minor leagues – before being called up on Dec. 23 for a 10-day contract. Warriors coach Steve Kerr and others noticed Weatherspoon’s defense on NBA All-Star Klay Thompson, who was rehabbing with Santa Cruz, recovering from his torn Achilles.
Said Kerr about Weatherspoon: “I saw him in Santa Cruz in scrimmages guarding Klay. We felt comfortable playing him because of his defensive ability. ”
“I’ve been working with Klay for three weeks now and he’s been telling the organization how helping him and defending him to get him back better,” Weatherspoon told reporters in Phoenix after the win. “So I kind of figured it was going to happen. I was just trying to stay ready, stay positive.”
After his performance on Christmas Day and the rest of the 10-day contract, the Warriors signed him to a two-way contract on Jan. 3, meaning he could come and go between the NBA’s Warriors and Santa Cruz whenever they needed him. His contract from him is also worth a salary of $1.5 million per year.
Weatherspoon played in 10 more games for the Warriors the rest of the season and averaged 2.7 points in 6.6 minutes. He shot 57 percent from the field (12 of 21) and 100 percent from the free throw line (5 of 5). Weatherspoon also played in 28 more games for Santa Cruz.
He didn’t get to dress out for Warriors during the playoffs but was on the bench for the championship series and will be getting a championship ring because of his two-way contract.
Weatherspoon, who was the 49th pick by the Spurs in the 2019 NBA Draft, averaged 1.9 points in 6.4 minutes in 31 games over the past two seasons for the Spurs. The Warriors signed him in October last year. Weatherspoon averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in nine games before being called up the Warriors at Christmas.
“A lot of people don’t even get to dream about winning a championship. Some people go 20 years in the NBA and never get a chance to even make the Finals,” Weatherspoon told WJTV-Channel 12 in a recent interview. “So, I even have the opportunity to win it is amazing and I’m just cherishing this moment each and every day.”
“I think the most important thing about winning the championship was the journey. Just all the stuff that we went through the whole year with injuries and not having our whole team and just finding a way to win even though we didn’t have a complete team. Going in with those guys was the most exciting thing. We were a brotherhood and we had to really come together and try to make it happen.”
Weatherspoon is happy to be on a championship team like the Warriors, who have won four NBA titles in the past eight seasons.
“Being around championship basketball is exciting,” Weatherspoon said. “Just makes you better. Being beside two of the best shooters in the world (Curry and Thompson) is great. They are like family. They brought me in with open arms. It’s easy to go up there and play with those guys. They trust me and I trust them. I have a lot of support from the team, coaching staff, and people in the organization. I think me coming out and playing so hard all the time and having a great attitude has taken me a long way. I’ve been on a two-way contract for three years and my goal is to be on a full-time contract. I want to be able to stick around in this league as long as possible. I’m trying to be patient and trust in God for sure. I want to leave a legacy for the people where I came from. There are a lot of people don’t make it from where I came from. I want to show them that you can do something different, be yourself and make it out too. I want to leave a legacy on my city.”
Weatherspoon made a name for himself at Velma Jackson, winning three straight MHSAA Class 3A state championships under coach Anthony Carlyle. He averaged 19.1 points as a senior and was rated as the nation’s No. 78 best player by Scout.com. He had 28 points, 8 assists, 6 steals and 6 rebounds in the state championship win over Aberdeen.
“Q was one of the most coachable kids I’ve had and did what the coaches asked of him without any attitude,” said Carlyle, who is now at Yazoo City. “He worked hard to improve each season. Q was a very unselfish teammate. Not only did he want to have success, but he also wanted to make sure his teammates had success as well.
“I am very proud of him because so many kids have potential but sometimes don’t reach it because of different factors but Q is reaching his potential. Being in the NBA is part of it, but that won’t last forever. Getting his college degree is what I am most proud of. Also, seeing him being a father and an inspiration for so many other young kids from his community. That maturation from when I met him 11 years ago as a freshman in high school until now has been great to see and it shows the great job his parents of him (Sharon and Tommie Weatherspoon) and family have done raising him.
Weatherspoon had an outstanding career at MSU. He started 117 games, the last 96 in a row, and became only the third player in school history to score 2,000 career points, Jeff Malone (1980-83) and Bailey Howell (1957-59). Weatherspoon also was the fifth player in school history to average double figures in all four seasons at MSU. He was one of three players to have 200 career steals. As a junior, Weatherspoon was named the Howell Trophy winner, recognizing the best college player in Mississippi.
“Q and I came in together,” said Ben Howland, who was MSU’s head coach from 2015 until this past season and started at MSU the same season that Weatherspoon came to Starkville. “I remember the first time I saw him in June of his freshman year in the weight room and he had a great body, perfect for a basketball, long legs and muscular. I am so blessed to be his coach and to know him. Q has been a terrific leader, a good representative of our university and basketball program. When we both got here it was a tough situation, but we’ve improved every year (going to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 when Weatherspoon was a senior). I have had a wonderful career. More importantly, Q led us to return to the NCAA Tournament after 10 years. He will be successful beyond his years of playing basketball.”
Weatherspoon averaged 10 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game, playing for the Warriors in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas July 7-17. The Warriors signed Weatherspoon to a two-year contract Friday for the 2022-2023 season.
“I’m trying to better myself and solidify myself on the roster,” Weatherspoon said at the summer league. “I’m just building on what I’m already done. Stay consistent. Have confidence in taking 3-point shots and making them. Focus on working on my jumper. Trying to get others involved. My whole career I was scoring, but now I want to make others better. That’s the next step in my career. Being around the Warriors has been a great experience and they taught me a lot to be patience. Trust the process and always stay ready.
“To get on the floor with this team, you really don’t have to score. Just coming out and defending is the best way to get a chance on the floor and stay on the floor. I took that mindset with it every chance I got on the floor. Start off with my defense. Offense will come. You’ve got people doubling Steph, Klay, and Jordan (Poole), so offense will be there. Start off with defensive end.
“I try to go out and play the game the best I can and let the results speak for themselves. It would be a great honor to stay with this team and this great group of guys. Being around Steph and Klay makes the game so much easier. I would love to stick around.”
The way Weatherspoon has played this season with the Warriors, chances are he will be staying in the league for a while.