Pondexter hopes to make jump in Year 2

Friday, June 3, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

It’s no coincidence that when the NBA announces its Most Improved Player voting results each spring, a large number of second-year pros are always listed. In 2011, for example, players such as Portland’s Wesley Matthews, Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough each made the top 15. A year from now, Quincy Pondexter hopes to add his name to the list of many players who’ve made a quantum leap from Year 1 to Year 2 of their careers.

The 23-year-old from the University of Washington showed glimpses of his NBA potential as a rookie, but wound up playing a total of 734 minutes in 66 appearances. As many draft experts predicted, his defensive acumen appeared to be more pro-ready and developed than his offensive skills, with him trying to find his niche on a team with several productive scorers. “Defensively, he’s ahead of the most guys at that position, because he can guard the ball,” Monty Williams assessed near the midway point of 2010-11. “One of the things that happens to a young guy is that you try to become an offensive player. That’s been his trap this year. As the stretch run approaches, we’re going to need him to be defensive-minded.”

Additional quotes on and from the personable Pondexter:
On his rookie season:
“He’s been a guy who’s up and down. He’s a guy we’re really high on, but especially on a team with a lot of veterans in front of you, you’re up and down. Your confidence is down at times. But he’s a tough-minded kid and he works his butt off every day.”

On his adjustment from college to the pros:
“It’s really tough. But you’ve got to relish moments like this, to have the opportunity to play against some of the world’s greatest (players) and have your number called. A lot of rookies don’t have this (chance).”

On making the playoffs:
“It was definitely the biggest (team) goal. Coming off a season where they didn’t make the playoffs last year, there was a real big emphasis on making it. Especially with all of the adversity and guys getting injured, it was a big accomplishment and a testament to how hard we worked. To have this opportunity has been a dream come true. I’ve been considering myself a winner pretty much all my life. I would hate to be on a team that didn’t have an opportunity to play for a championship. Even though I’m a rookie and still learning so many things, I’d rather have this than be on a team that’s not as good. You could be scoring as many points as you want, but it’s not about that. It’s about a team good and winning. That’s what I’m all about.”