It has often been said that a college basketball player makes his greatest stride between his freshman and sophomore season.
Temple’s Quinton Rose gives this theory great credence.
Listed at 6-foot-8 but acknowledging he’s an inch shorter, Rose has gone from key freshman reserve to NBA prospect in the same quick way that he glides down the floor.
“He has imperfections, but there is a lot there to like, with his size and athletic ability and the improvement he has made,” said an NBA scout who requested anonymity. “Right now, you can see him going anywhere from 21 to 40” in the draft. That would make Rose a potential late-first-round choice.
The scout explained that it is early and that so much can happen, but he said the Temple sophomore guard is in the conversation because he doesn’t consider next year’s draft as deep as last year’s and because Rose has made a huge leap in development.
“It’s not like he has become this can’t-miss future NBA all-star, but the cupboard is pretty bare,” the scout said. “There were a lot of freshmen who went last year.” A record 16 freshmen, including Sixers No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, were first-round selections in the 2017 draft.
As Temple (5-2) prepares to host St. Joseph’s (4-4) in a Big Five game on Saturday at the Liacouras Center, Rose has taken a major leap statistically, not to mention stylistically.
He has explosive athleticism and leaping ability and runs like a gazelle on the fastbreak. The product of Bishop Kearney High in suburban Rochester, N.Y., has also refined his perimeter game.
“I worked so hard in the offseason on my jumper,” Rose said. “I feel much more comfortable.”
Last season, he averaged 10.1 points in 24.8 minutes, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three-point range. This season, he averages a team-best 17.6 points and is shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 37 percent on threes (10 for 27) in a team-leading 34.6 minutes.
Rose was at his best on one of the biggest stages for any player: Madison Square Garden, in Temple’s 76-60 win Nov. 30. He scored 24 points, two shy of his career high, and shot 10 for 13 from the field. More important, he had just one turnover, a major point of emphasis.
Rose can break down defenders with a killer crossover and can get to the basket with a cat-quick first step, but handling the ball is one area that needs improvement. He is averaging 3.3 turnovers per game after averaging 1.9 last season, but he’s also playing more minutes.
“If I cut down my turnovers, pick up on defense and rebounding, and keep doing what I am doing on the offensive end, I think there is another level I can reach one day,” Rose said.
He traces his recent development to the summer, when he experienced ups and downs while trying out for the USA Basketball’s under-19 team. Twenty-seven players were invited to the training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., and after four training sessions, Rose was among 18 players still in the running.
“Being out with all those great players definitely helped my confidence,” Rose said.
Even when he was among the final cuts, Rose turned it into a positive.
“It just added fuel to the fire,” he said. “I was upset at first, but I just took what I learned and have applied it now to the season.”
Fran Dunphy has to walk a fine line with Rose. He is explosive and can take players off the dribble, so the veteran coach wants him to continue being creative. But Dunphy also would like to see Rose improve his ballhandling.
“He has to be stronger when he takes it into traffic,” Dunphy said.
That said, Dunphy is pleased with all the phases of Rose’s game that have improved — none more than his shooting.
“He has worked as hard as anybody on his perimeter shooting, and you are seeing the fruits of that labor,” Dunphy said.
Last year, Rose often looked like a first-year player, attempting to find his way. This season, he is a true team leader.
“I am definitely much more confident,” he said. “I know what to expect.”
Is he aware that NBA scouts have noticed him?
“I try not to pay attention to it and try to focus on the practice and game at hand,” Rose said.
Still, the attention won’t go away.
“A lot of people in the league are talking about him,” the scout said. “For scouts, he has become a household name.”