QUINCY -- Mention Ryan Briscoe looks healthy and he laughs.
"I actually haven't been," he said. "Last week, I sat out two practices because I was having some knee troubles with tendinitis."
Those type of aches and pains come from the wear and tear a four-year college athlete endures. Along with it comes the maturity and mental toughness to handle the bumps and bruises.
That's where Briscoe finds himself. He looks healthy because he acts healthy.
"I feel a lot better physically," Briscoe said. "I'm one who has always tried to take care of my body with lifting and working out."
It has him playing at his most consistent level when the Quincy University men's basketball team needs it most. The Hawks open Great Lakes Valley Conference play Tuesday at Truman State with Briscoe providing unmatched leadership.
Through five games, his offensive numbers are solid -- nine points and four rebounds in 33 minutes per game -- and he's been smart with the ball. Briscoe has 16 assists against just four turnovers.
Yet, it's his defense that gets QU coach Ryan Hellenthal raving. Briscoe is tied for the team lead with five steals.
"He never ceases to amaze me," Hellenthal said. "He battles every single day. You can tell he takes no possessions off. I'm more proud that he's more engaged defensively this year. He's our defensive guy right now.
"He's playing a lot freer offensively. He has confidence in his shot now. He's been through the wars here for two years and he's figuring out when I can score and where I can score."
His teammates see it, too.
Adam Moore, a redshirt freshman forward, played with Briscoe at Duchesne High School in St. Charles, Mo.,
"It's back to normal for the way I know Ryan," Moore said. "It's awesome seeing him like this. He has his confidence back. It's like playing with him in high school again. He's one of the best dudes I've ever played with, and he's not even to where he can be yet. He's finally getting back in his groove."
That's the confidence that comes with experience.
"Those first two years of actually playing, you learn so much," Briscoe said. "This third year, it's clicking. I'm really seeing reads better. I'm seeing my teammates better. Really, the game is just kind of slowing down for me."
It's allowing him to slow it down for his younger teammates, too.
"He's our savvy veteran," Hellenthal said. "He's a great example for our younger guys."
He's the epitome of persistence and growth.
"You can tell he's enjoying the game a lot more," Moore said.
Not much can change that.
"Just have to stay healthy," Briscoe said.