Quincy Pondexter is returning to Montlake.
Eleven years after carrying the 11th-seeded Washington men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16, Pondexter is making his first foray into collegiate coaching as an assistant for the Huskies.
It’s the second staff addition in nearly three weeks for coach Mike Hopkins, who hired former California Bears coach Wyking Jones on April 14.
The new assistants join Will Conroy while replacing Cameron Dollar and Dave Rice, who both left the team after last season’s 5-21 record and 11th-place finish in the Pac-12 at 4-16.
“I always knew that at some point, I would come back to Seattle because my heart has always been at UW,” Pondexter said in a statement. “Coach Hopkins has such a great reputation and you can’t help but love his energy, enthusiasm and work ethic. He makes you work harder, makes coming to work enjoyable and I’m excited to grow my relationship with him.
“I’m eager to help us get back to the top of basketball prominence and develop our men into the best that they possibly can be on and off the court. It’s also going to be incredible coaching alongside Will Conroy as he has been a great mentor to me over the years. I’m ready to get back inside that arena and get to work.”
During his four-year Husky career (2006-10), the 6-foot-7 wing started three seasons and finished fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list with 1,786 points. Pondexter recorded 83 career double-digit scoring games in a UW-record 136 games and tallied at least 20 points in 30 contests, which ranks fifth in school history.
The five-star recruit out of San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, California, made an immediate impact and started as a freshman while averaging 10.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.
After a setback as a sophomore in which he was benched, Pondexter returned to the staring lineup as a junior and averaged 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.
“There was no one to put the blame on except myself,” Pondexter told The Seattle Times’ Matt Calkins last year. “I had already locked myself in the gym most of those years, but I really locked myself in the gym that last year, to the point that it was do or die.”
During this time, Pondexter endeared himself to many UW fans as a tireless worker who spent hours after games working out in the auxiliary gyms at Alaska Airlines Arena well past midnight with his father Roscoe.
As a senior, Pondexter led Washington in scoring (19.3 points per game), rebounds (7.4) and free-throw percentage (82.7%) while setting a Pac-10 record with five conference player-of-the-week awards. He was named first-team All-Pac-10 and former UW coach Lorenzo Romar was publicly upset when Pondexter did not receive the conference’s Player of the Year award that went to California’s Jerome Randle.
Paired with Isaiah Thomas, Pondexter carried the Huskies (26-10 and 11-7 in Pac-10) to the 2010 NCAA tournament, where he authored one of the most thrilling shots in UW history.
The former Husky star powered up a game-winning layup with 1.7 seconds left to beat No. 6 seed Marquette 80-78 in the first round of the tournament.
Washington throttled No. 3 New Mexico 82-64 in the second round and lost 69-56 to No. 2 West Virginia in the Sweet 16. Pondexter was held to just seven points and two rebounds in his final UW game.
“That year changed my entire life for me and my family and everything,” Pondexter said. “I’ll always love Washington. I’ll always love that year, because that year really was the best year of my life, and I’ll cherish it forever.”
Pondexter was selected as the No. 26 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and played seven injury-riddled years with four teams, including two stints in New Orleans with the Hornets and Pelicans, a four-year run with the Memphis Grizzlies and one-year deals with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
Pondexter, who averaged 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds during his NBA career, played his final game April 25, 2019, when San Antonio was eliminated 4-3 in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
In 2015, Pondexter founded, self-funded and coached the Bay Area based AAU team California United, which merged in 2018 with the Las Vegas Elite.
“There is so much you have to deal with,” Pondexter said in a 2019 interview with The Athletic while detailing his coaching aspirations. “And that is a lot of kids that you’re responsible for, but it’s a great honor to be trusted with that.”
At 33, Pondexter is beginning the next chapter of his storied basketball career in a familiar place.
Still, it remains to be seen how the addition of a Husky legend with no prior college coaching experience helps Hopkins, who has come under fire after a disappointing 20-38 record and 9-21 Pac-12 mark the past two seasons.
“We are thrilled to add Quincy to our staff,” Hopkins said in a statement. “His Husky pride runs deep, and what he accomplished as a player both in college and in the NBA is going be a great role model for our players.
“He’s achieved what they all dream of and brought it to reality through professionalism, hard work and resiliency. His passion for developing players is going to immediately infuse our program with energy and we can’t wait to have him back on the sidelines in Seattle.”