Men's College Basketball

Junior college guard commits to play for Hawks

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 13, 2018 2:30 am Updated: Apr. 13, 2018 11:10 am

QUINCY -- It didn't take Austin Downing long to see he would be comfortable playing with the Quincy University men's basketball team.

"I knew after probably three of four trips down the floor I fit in," Downing said.

Downing, a 6-foot sophomore guard from Neosho Community College in Chanute, Kan., made an official visit to the Quincy campus last week, and part of his recruitment involved playing a pick-up game with the Hawks in Pepsi Arena. It gave him quality insight into the team chemistry.

"You could just tell no one is out there playing for themselves," Downing said. "That's the type of player I want to be. I don't play for myself. I don't for people to look at me and say, ‘He's a selfish guy.' I don't like that.

"I could tell playing with them they weren't like that. They were all talking on defense and communicating on offense. They were setting screens away from the ball. It's easy to set a screen on the ball and say you're playing with each other. Getting people open while they're off the ball was another thing I saw that told me I would fit in here."

So Downing didn't waste time visiting anywhere else.

He announced his commitment to QU on Thursday night, becoming the first player in the Hawks' 2018 recruiting class. Quincy has up to two scholarships it can use on this class, and the Hawks had John Wood Community College sophomore forward Aziz Fadika on campus last week.

Adam Moore, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Duchesne High School in St. Louis, is visiting Quincy this week.

Downing averaged 15.1 points and 4.6 assists per game, while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 72.4 percent from the free-throw line. He finished his two-year career at Neosho with 848 career points, which ranks 25th in program history.

"The bottom line is I want to win," Downing said.

He believes that is possible at Quincy, where the Hawks are coming off a 9-18 season, return three double-digit scorers and add shooting guard Jah-Kobe Womack to the mix. Womack, a transfer from Allen County (Kan.) Community College, redshirted last season.

Downing and Womack played against each other in the Jayhawk Conference.

"Allen is our rival school and they got us twice last year," Downing said. "That was the first time I had seen him in a while. So it was kind of hard to shake his hand."

Downing laughed out loud after that.

"I'm just playing," Downing said. "Jah-Kobe is a good dude. I like all the guards. I like everybody and how they play."

He liked the culture being established at Quincy, too.

"Coach (Ryan) Hellenthal and I have know each other for a while, so I was able to connect with him," Downing said. "The entire staff, they all tell you how it is. They're straightforward. They're not sugarcoating anything. They were like, ‘If you come here, we're going to push you. We're not going to let you fail.' That's what I like.

"I know I'm setting myself up for a situation where I'm going to be pushed. That's what I need."

The community support drew him in as well.

"I think the people and the atmosphere was really nice," Downing said. "It seemed like everyone is connected with the school. If they're working at the school, they still support it. They want to support it. That was one of the biggest things for me. Everyone seemed to care."

Downing's mother, Shauna, joined him on the campus visit and walked away impressed, too.

"That helped me make my decision," Downing said. "I know that she's happy. I'm happy there, too. It's a win-win."

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