How Jordan Poole’s Friendship Helped Quinndary Weatherspoon Carry On

When asked about his experiences in the G League, Santa Cruz Warriors goaltender Quinndary Weatherspoon said he tries to focus on the positives. Although he’s not quite where he wants to be, he’s still living his dream of being a professional basketball player.

Weatherspoon averaged 24.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 19 games with Santa Cruz this season. Thursday against the Stockton Kings, the former Mississippi State scored a game-high 30 points in a tough loss. His numbers might suggest he’s ready for the NBA, but that’s out of his control. The best he can do right now is keep the faith and stay the course.

Luckily for Weatherspoon, he has Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole in his corner — someone who understands the grind and can keep him on track. Weatherspoon and Poole first met early in their pre-draft process out of college in 2019. They’ve stayed in touch via Instagram and text messaging, and their friendship continues to grow.

In a way, they’re in this thing together.

“You must be extremely thankful and thankful to see him continue to grow,” Poole said of Weatherspoon, whom Spurs drafted 49th overall – 21 picks after Poole – and ended up on a two-way deal that will see him grow. shared time with their G League Affiliate in Austin. “He was in a really good organization there in San Antonio, and then he was able to come here. Now he is with us in a very good organization. So he has a lot of very good teaching around him, good people, good character around him. And it’s great to see him driving.

As a two-way player, Weatherspoon lives in uncertainty. He doesn’t know when he will be called up to the big club. And when he does, he can’t know if it’s his last time. With full-time contracts on the line, the pressure to produce in a league full of top players is immense. He’s stuck in a constant struggle for relevance. And the lifestyle of a G League player isn’t exactly luxurious.

“Some states don’t have good living conditions,” Weatherspoon said. “Like the California teams, they often stay in hotels year-round. Mostly we fly commercial and not charter flights. I think the league has grown so much and it’s helped a lot of people get into the NBA. .

That’s what makes Weatherspoon’s relationship with Poole so important. Sometimes it takes a little nudge from someone who has been in your shoes to persevere. Poole spent part of his first two seasons at Santa Cruz, a period that proved crucial to his development.

The friendship between Weatherspoon and Poole is rooted on the pitch. Going into their pre-draft process in San Antonio, the coaches noticed that they were about the same height and playing in the same position. So naturally, the two often found themselves face to face during training.

“It was crazy,” Weatherspoon said. “I think he and I were the only two guards there. So we were just competing, pushing each other, improving each other, just showing the teams what we could do at the time. I think it helped me a lot.

Although the shelf life of second-round picks in the league is typically short, at Weatherspoon Poole saw a special player who could thrive when given the right opportunity. In Santa Cruz, Weatherspoon took advantage.

“Quindary just plays very fluid,” Poole said. “His cuts, how he gets to the rack, how he can get and-1s and play through the physical. For me, I like playing with him because he takes a lot of the pressure off. He takes on a large part of the defensive responsibilities. It is a pest in defense.

Along with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and others on Monday against Denver, Weatherspoon was called up from Santa Cruz to fill the void, earning another opportunity to share the field with Poole. Weatherspoon played 16 minutes in the loss, finishing with 11 points on 4-on-5 shooting, and Poole scored a team-high 32.

Asked about Weatherspoon’s growth, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he was impressed.

“I love Quinndary, he’s tough,” Kerr said. “Every time he plays for us he does a fantastic job defending and executing. He’s just a great teammate, someone I trust completely when I put him in the game.

Weatherspoon’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The best advice Poole can give Weatherspoon for the journey ahead: keep going.

“As soon as you stop, there’s someone else working,” Poole said. “And you never know when an opportunity is going to present itself. You want to be ready whenever the time comes.

“To be honest, it’s all about will, heart and taking care of yourself mentally and physically to become a better person and a better player. Everything else will take care of itself.

CJ Holmes covers the Warriors for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @CjHolmes22

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