After three years of playing in the ivy league for Columbia University, former Mission College Prep basketball star Quinton Adlesh has taken his dead-eye outside shooting skills to a big-time college basketball venue in the Pac-12 Conference at the University of Southern California.
The three-point shooting including Utah, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Colorado.
“The Ivy League is really competitive, but the Pac-12 is a Power Five conference and they definitely have a higher degree of talent, more speed, more size,” he said. “But I think the Ivy League prepared me well. It’s a great league.”
After a visit to USC, it wasn’t a difficult decision, he said. “I was ecstatic. I got to meet the staff, meet the players. I was sold on everything they had to offer.”
“He’s a great addition to our team,” said USC Associate Head Coach Jason Hart. “We are really excited to have him and his leadership. His strengths are toughness, shooting and experience. I think he is a wonderful human being.”
“I’ve worked hard since high school with the goal of playing at college,” said Adlesh. “The work catapulted me into my senior year. I worked on the things I wasn’t good at and received so much support from family and close friends.”
He gave credit to several people, including Mission’s coach Terrance Harris. “He helped me with a maturation process on and off the court.”
Adlesh said he got off to a good start in Middle School, learning the basics in former Cal Poly star Mike Wozniak’s 3Ball Academy. “He helped me understand the game a lot better. He helped me play within a system and he taught me mental toughness and perseverance.”
He is also grateful for the help of Columbia assistant coach Kenny Blakeney, who recently landed the job as head coach at Howard specialist, who has already earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, led the Ivy League with treys and averaged 13.5 points per game last season. The streak shooter scored a career-high 24 points during a barrage of five three-pointers against Longwood University, Virginia. He also nailed six threes against the Bryant University Bulldogs.
While at Mission College Prep in San Luis Obispo, the Arroyo Grande resident once got so hot that he scored 50 points against St. Joseph’s in the CIF playoffs. The first team All-Pac-8 selection averaged 19 points a game and 6.5 rebounds his senior year in 2015. His on-court savvy earned him Mission Male Athlete of the Year honors.
Under the NCAA’s Grad-Transfer Program, he was able to move to USC for his senior season without having to sit out a year. He will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Project Management. Adlesh described it as a business analysis program. “You learn how to manage and follow through on projects in whatever field that might be.”
“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to play at a high level and do something new. I’m happy to be close to my family so they can see me play.
“They recruited me for my ability to shoot, so I’m always going to look for my shot. I’d like to be able to make plays for other guys and lead by example, limiting mental mistakes, making maximum effort.”
Adlesh has made an immediate impact. He was recently named co-captain along with Jonah Mathews, a senior guard. “One of my goals this year was to be a leader for the team, on and off the court,” he said, ”so it feels good to be recognized by my teammates and coaches. I think my experiences and approach to putting the team first are why I was selected. We have a young, talented team and I want to do whatever I can to help them improve. All of the younger guys are very mature, so I have really just tried to show up every day and work hard to set a good example.”
Once he announced that he intended to go the grad-transfer route, about a dozen Division I colleges came calling from east and west, University. “He helped me with understanding ways to motivate people.”
He also praised the faculty and staff at Mission. “Their No. 1 goal is to get students to whatever university they want to attend. From the moment I was a freshman, they helped provide guidance to get me to a four-year university.”
His top memory at Mission was a CIF playoff victory against Chaminade High School that went down to the buzzer. “What made it special was so many people in the community came out to support us,” he said.
At Mission, Adlesh played on two CIF runner-up teams and a Pac-8 championship team. One of the highlights his junior year at Columbia was the way they finished the season. They capped it off with consecutive road wins at Brown and first-place Yale, which won the four-team Ivy League tourney to advance to the NCAA playoffs. The educational experience at Columbia was top-flight. “I was fortunate to be around some brilliant minds and get some perspective,” he said.
After the transfer went through in May, he was able to take advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Spain and France free of charge for a team sightseeing trip and three exhibition games in August. The on-court highlight was in Cannes, France, where he scored 18 points in one game against a Lithuanian Select team, including five three-point bombs.
“It was incredible,” he said. “We were able to experience new cultures and experience time with my teammates at historic places. It gave me the travel bug to go back. It was an opportunity to bond. We have a lot of new players (eight).”
On the basketball court during the excursion, the Trojans defeated French Select 90-67, Lithuania 105-83 and Spanish Select 102-51.
The 6-0, 200-pounder is now working with a basketball program that appears to be on the rise. For Central Coast residents who might want to go to Los Angeles to see Adlesh play in-person, in addition to Adlesh’s talents, there are several pro prospects on the Trojans’ roster. The recruiting class at USC has been rated among the top 10 nationally.
“There is a lot of good talent,” said Adlesh. “Everyone seems to play unselfishly. It’s been fun so far.”
Onboard for this season is Isaiah Mobley, a five-star (the highest rating) 6-10, 235 pound forward from Rancho Christian High in Temecula. Another five-star is Onyeka Okongwu from Chino Hills High. He is a devastating 6-9, 235-pound earthquake forward-center. Also in the fold is 6-8, 180 pound forward Max Agbonkpolo, a four-star from Santa Margarita Catholic in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Already committed for next year is Mobley’s brother, Evan, currently the No. 1 high school prospect in America. He is 7-feet tall.
The Trojans also have returning senior starters Nick Rakocevic (6-11, 225-pound forward) and Mathews (6-3, 205), a shooting guard.
“Our goal is to get off to a good start in non-conference and when league comes around to be clicking on all cylinders,” said Adlesh. “The ultimate goal is to make the NCAA tourney and win the Pac-12 title.”
It would be momentous. The last time the Trojans won an outright league title was 1961 when Santa Maria graduate John Rudometkin led the way. The Trojans did tie for a championship in 1985.
“USC is knocking on the door,” said Adlesh. “This group this year has a good shot.”
His parents, Mary and Steve, live in Arroyo Grande. Quinton has three brothers, Nolan, Brannon and Ryan. USC starts the season at home on November 5th against Florida A&M.
Heather Young is a freelance writer specializing in travel, wine, food and feel-good stories about people doing good in their communities and world. Find her on Instagram @travelswithheatheryoung