Like a joke-loving dad who would never embarrass his kids on purpose but relishes holding the possibility over their heads, Mississippi State coach Ben Howland confessed the contents of his phone to reporters on Wednesday. Somewhere deep in that camera roll, Howland has that most embarrassing of artifacts – baby pictures. Specifically, he’s got pictures of one of his veteran players, Quinndary Weatherspoon, with one of his newest players in signee Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s little brother.
It was a big deal when the first Weatherspoon signed with MSU as a four-star guard and debuted last year, Howland’s first at MSU. It was an equally grand moment when the second Weatherspoon in as many years signed with MSU, this one also a four-star guard, the top-rated player in Mississippi, one of the best 35 players in the country and the No. 5 point guard in America in this class.
Nick is just a tad higher rated than Quinndary was out of high school, but to hear big brother tell the story, Q has always been a little ahead on the court. Asked when Nick got old enough to compete against or possibly beat his brother in basketball, Quinndary was clear that such a moment has yet to occur.
“He still hasn’t caught up to me, I don’t believe,” Quinndary joked.
Kidding from both Quinndary and Howland aside, each is thrilled to add a second Weatherspoon to the roster next year.
“I’m excited that I get to play with him again,” Quinndary told reporters. “I really enjoyed us playing together in high school. We had a lot of fun growing up playing together.”
They started playing together late in elementary school when the two brothers would go out in the backyard to shoot around, play one-on-one or delve into whatever competition they could muster with just the two of them. By the time they were both in middle school, Quinndary and Nick had taken their game to local gyms, not only playing against older boys, but typically beating them, too.
It may have been disappointing at the time for those high schoolers to lose to a pair of middle school brothers, but they’ll likely feel better in a few years when there’s a strong chance of both Weatherspoons being professional basketball players. Who knows, maybe they’ll even play on the same pro team together.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see either brother in the NBA, particularly as Howland and Quinndary both compared Nick to one of the greatest basketball players in the world. And it just so happens that the player in question, Russell Westbrook, also played for Howland in college.
“Watching him a year ago,” Howland said of Nick, “he played out in Vegas and he was just phenomenal. He made his team so much better, and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s the only player I have ever watched where he reminded me of Russell Westbrook.’ That is the ultimate compliment that I can pay a player, and it’s because of his motor. What makes Russell Westbrook special is what makes Nick special; competitive, toughness, desire to win and playing both ends of the floor. I can’t pay a young man a higher compliment.”
Quinndary, likely unaware that Howland had made the same comparison just a few minutes before, confirmed the similarities.
“His game is very aggressive,” Quinndary explained. “I describe him as a young Russell Westbrook. He gets after each and every play and he’s going to get after it each and every game.”
Of course, Quinndary was quick to remind, just because Nick reminds him of the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, doesn’t mean that he’s better than big brother. They haven’t played one-on-one in a few years, and the next time they share a court, they’ll likely be wearing the same maroon and white jerseys with “WEATHERSPOON” across the back. But Quinndary hasn’t lost confidence. His supposedly unblemished record has seen to that.
“I won all of them,” Quinndary said of their one-on-one battles. “I never lost.”
Perhaps little brother will get his chance at redemption – and rebuttal – next year.