Welcome back to Utah, Quincy Lewis.
Announced on Monday morning, the Jazz have hired former player Quincy Lewis as Director of Alumni Relations.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to the Jazz organization and the state of Utah in this new role,” Lewis said. “Getting drafted by the franchise and spending three years here was a dream come true. The chance to come back and be part of the team in a different capacity brings things full circle. I’m looking forward to working with former players and to grow and strengthen their connections with not only the team but also the community at large.”
Spearheading the vision of bolstering the team’s alumni program was Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who grew up watching legends like John Stockton, Karl Malone, Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams, Carolos Boozer and others. His goal was to deepen the franchise’s ties with past players through year round efforts.
“This whole thing really started as a vision from Ryan Smith. … He has a huge appreciation for our alumni,” said Jim Olson, President of the Utah Jazz.
For many reasons, the Jazz quickly zeroed in on Lewis when searching for the perfect candidate.
“Our organization has a deep appreciation for the many players who have helped build our franchise,” said Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik. “Throughout the process of finding the best candidate for this position, it was clear that Quincy was the perfect fit. His experience as a former Jazzman combined with his knowledge of the business of basketball makes him uniquely suited to lead our alumni relations program.”
A former first round draft pick of the Jazz, Lewis understands what it's like to play in the league and then leave the game for a new chapter. But it was the Jazz’s effort to embrace him years after he left professional basketball that left an indelible mark on him.
"I think the alumni program allowed me to come back and see that people appreciated me, that the organization appreciated the time I had with them," Lewis said. "It helps because basketball is a business, so when you leave, you don't necessarily know how the organization feels about you. Now I can be a support system. There are so many resources out there that I can help with. When this opportunity came up, I knew this role was made for me because every aspect of the job, I've either lived it, experienced it, created it, or I've had to execute it."
After being drafted with the 19th overall pick in 1999, Lewis suited up for the Jazz until 2002. He then went to Israel for a season, starring for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Euro League. He returned to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2003-04 season.
After that, he returned to Europe where he played for a number of big-name organizations such as Etosa Alicante (Liga ACB), Olympiacos (Euro League), and iurbentia Bilbao (Liga ACB) before retiring in 2009. He averaged 14.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game throughout his international career.
A decade-long veteran of alumni relations, Lewis recently served as Director of the M Club, the University of Minnesota's program for its former athletes.
Lewis helped foster a new era at the M Club, one based on the understanding that alums can be positive public advocates for the University. He also helped create a vast network for Minnesota alums where athletes could seek help from others as they began to transition to life outside of college athletics.
“Coming back to work for the University, I learned how to balance being an advocate for the alumni, an advocate for the community, and also making sure you're keeping the integrity of the organization,” he said.
Serving as Director of the M Club was an honor as the University of Minnesota holds a special place in his heart after he starred for the men’s basketball team from 1995-1999.
After seeing action as a primary role player his first two seasons, Lewis exploded as a junior when he started 33 of 35 games, averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
His senior season was one of the greatest in Minnesota basketball history. He led the Big Ten in scoring at 23.1 points per game (sixth in the NCAA) and received All-American recognition, ending his career sixth on Minnesota's all-time scoring list at 1,614 points.
Now leading these same efforts for his original NBA franchise, Lewis wants to bring the same principles he established at Minnesota to Salt Lake City.
"You're always welcome back. … That's one of the things, in this position, that I really want people to know," Lewis said. "If you played for the Jazz, you're welcome back. … If you want to come back and see your legacy, that's my job to make sure you can find it. I always say that I love to help. … That's the most exciting part for me, to give people an opportunity to come back."
Once a Jazzman, always a Jazzman — and Lewis is living proof that the saying is more than just words, it’s a mantra Utah stands by.