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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Buys into his process’: Quincy Ballard returns from injury

Sophomore+center+Quincy+Ballard+tries+to+get+open+on+offense.+On+Dec.+3%2C+Wichita+State+traveled+to+Manhattan+to+play+against+K-State%2C+losing+55-50.
Maegan Vincent
Sophomore center Quincy Ballard tries to get open on offense. On Dec. 3, Wichita State traveled to Manhattan to play against K-State, losing 55-50.

Junior center Quincy Ballard missed several games last basketball season due to a lingering back injury, but after he returned this season, teammate Kenny Pohto said it doesn’t appear like he was even injured.

“It was crazy when we heard he had a fracture or something, and he had been playing through (it) for a while,” Pohto, a junior forward, said. “But when he came back, you couldn’t really tell that he was injured.”

Ballard played for Florida State from 2020-2022, where he helped FSU to the 2021 Sweet 16 team as a freshman. He then transferred to Wichita State for “more opportunities” and better playing time.

Last season, Ballard played in nine of the first 11 games but missed the final 17 due to stress fractures in his back. He would have led the nation in blocking percentage if he had played enough time to qualify for KenPom rankings.

The 6-foot-11 player said that sitting out was a challenge.

“It was tough times; I just sit in the bench and watch,” Ballard said.

Ballard said his teammates made sure “he was straight” during the experience and that he “can’t complain too much.” Pohto highlighted Ballard’s positive attitude throughout the experience.

“He’s a strong guy — I mean, strong mentally. I don’t really think he ever complained about his back,” Pohto said. “He used to say like his back was hurting, but we didn’t really think anything big of it.”

Excited to return to playing, Ballard said he hopes the team can be as successful as possible. One of his goals is to return to March Madness.

“It’s just really a great thing to think about to reminisce when you’re older,” Ballard said. “Depending on how far you go, it’s just like a great feeling to have.”

Pohto said that Ballard has adjusted well since returning from injury, and he praised his teammate’s defensive playing.

“He’s a tall guy … it’s hard to finish over him,” Pohto said. “So you’ll see him being big in the paint. It’s a big thing for us.”

Pohto said Ballard’s offensive playing has also improved, noting that he has a “great touch around the rim.”

Junior guard Xavier Bell said that since returning, Ballard has played to his strengths. He said Ballard “buys into his process” and works hard.

Following Isaac Brown’s departure last season, head coach Paul Mills now works with the team, along with assistant head coach Kenton Paulino and assistant coaches TJ Cleveland and Quincy Acy. Ballard said he likes the new coaches and their standards.

“I feel like they have really high expectations, and we have high expectations of them as well,” Ballard said.

Ballard said he plans to continue playing after he graduates, whether on a semi-pro or pro basketball team. His favorite part of playing for Wichita State is the fanbase.

“They’re really into Wichita State basketball, like, pretty much the whole season,” Ballard said.

On and off the court, Pohto and Bell said they enjoy being around Ballard.

“He’s a great person,” Bell said. “He brings a certain type of personality that I think you just have to be around him to see. He can come off as kind of quiet, obviously, being one of the tallest guys in the room, but he’s actually really outgoing and really confident in himself.”

When asked what to expect from Ballard this season, Pohto said he thinks Ballard might average three blocks again.

“I feel like you should expect to see a lot of blocks and lots of defensive plays from him — and some big dunks, too.”

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Maegan Vincent, Former photographer
Maegan Vincent was a reporter and photographer for The Sunflower.

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