Family Matters: Quinton Hooker and the Role of Family in his Basketball Journey

The sense of family was a big reason that Quinton Hooker committed to play for North Dakota out of high school, and it's that sense of family and community that has the guard leading the Fighting Hawks to bigger and better things. (Source: UND Athletics)
The sense of family was a big reason that Quinton Hooker committed to play for North Dakota out of high school, and it’s that sense of family and community that has the guard leading the Fighting Hawks to bigger and better things. (Source: UND Athletics)

“The main reason was the family feeling here at UND!”

Those were Quinton Hooker‘s first words when asked about what ultimately led him to commit to the University of North Dakota out of high school back in 2013. It should come as no surprise to anyone close to Hooker, as the sense of family and community have been with him every step of the way in his basketball career.

From the early years, when he was just learning the game, to his career-to-date at North Dakota that saw him get voted the CCR Mid-Major Player of the Year by fans, family and the basketball community have meant a lot to Hooker.

His ‘family’, both bloodline and basketball, have played a big role in shaping the type of person he is, both on and off the court. This is the story of just how much family has played a part in Hooker’s development as one of the nation’s top guards.

Like most players, it all started with his biggest influence in the game.

Dad.

“As a child, my dad got me into basketball,” said Hooker. “He laid down the foundation for me going into not only basketball, but sports in general.”

From the outset, Hooker’s family has been heavily involved in his progress through the ranks in the basketball community. But, you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of his family with a bigger influence than his father.

When asked if his father was his biggest influence, Hooker couldn’t stop raving about him.

“He coached me all the way to high school, and taught me everything I know. He wasn’t just my dad in that way because he was my coach and my trainer, too. I’m very blessed to have a dad like him!”

“He definitely was my biggest influence,” concluded Hooker.

Whatever Hooker learned from his father in the early years translated to high school success. He scored over 2,000 points in high school, and was named the 2013 Minnesota Mr. Basketball honouree after leading his team to the 4A state title game.

Despite his team losing in the state final, the one thing that will always stick with him is a recurring theme. The community rallied behind the team and the sense of family within the team will stick with Hooker wherever he goes.

“Looking back at it, it wasn’t the outcome we wanted but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball,” said Hooker, reflecting back on the loss.

“The group of guys we had at (Park Center) and the way the community gathered around us and supported us is what sticks with me.”


Even though he moved on to play in Grand Forks, ND, the sense of family and community have followed Hooker from his hometown of Brooklyn Park, Minn, and he feels right at home.

“The city of Grand Forks is a great place and extremely supportive of their athletes and that’s huge!”

The entire North Dakota athletics department got behind Quinton Hooker, and their late-round push on Sunday propelled their junior guard to the win, and is the CCR Mid-Major Player of the Year! (Source: UND Basketball)
The entire North Dakota athletics department got behind Quinton Hooker, and their late-round push on Sunday propelled their junior guard to the win, and is the CCR Mid-Major Player of the Year! (Source: UND Basketball)

Their support was evident in the 2nd Annual College Court Report Mid-Major Player of the Year. Fans got behind Hooker from the start, and propelled him to the top, taking home the award as the Player of the Year after amassing over 41,000 votes during the six weeks of the contest.

After winning the award, Hooker was quick to praise the community for supporting him over the duration of the contest.

“It’s very humbling,” said Hooker, when asked about all of the votes from people he likely hasn’t met, and who hold him in high regard both on and off the court.

“Just to know that people don’t think of me as a good basketball player but as a good person means a lot to me! Because, at the end of the day, basketball is a huge part of who I am but not everything. God has blessed me and I’m just trying to glorify His name more than just through basketball.”

Consider the community of Grand Forks, and the community back in his hometown of Brooklyn Park, one big extended family.

It wasn’t just the fans who were getting behind the standout junior, who averaged 20.1 points per game in 2015-16. Even his teammates were getting in on the act, rallying the troops on Twitter to get people to vote.

The likes of Carson ShanksDustin Hobaugh, and Geno Grandall took to social media to spread the word about the contest and for people to vote.

“It means a lot to me,” stated Hooker, when asked what the support of his teammates meant to him.

“They’re my brothers on and off the court and I know they have my back like I have theirs. It just shows how much of a family we are here at UND.”

He was also named to the All-Big Sky First Team, while also being named a Lou Henson All-American team member following the season and a finalist for the Lou Henson Award as Mid-Major Player of the Year.


Team success has been something that North Dakota has been building over the past few seasons, and they are turning into a regular contender in the conference.

This past season was another step in the right direction, as the team advanced to the semi-finals in the Big Sky tournament and made their fifth appearance in the CollegeInsider.Com Tournament in the last six years.

In comparison to past year’s, this year’s post-season appearance was a monumental one, as it was the first time in school history that they were able to host a post-season game. While the Fighting Hawks fell in overtime to the UC Irvine Anteaters, it was an experience that Hooker and the fans both won’t soon forget.

“It was a great feeling to be able to host a post-season game because our fans deserved it,” said Hooker when reflecting on the long-awaited night. “We have some of the most loyal fans in the conference and they come to every game cheering us on and giving them a post-season game is the least we could do.”

The game also gave the team motivation for what’s to come next season.

“Fans can expect to see a much improved, more mature North Dakota basketball team!With everyone having a year under their belt and having a year together, this team is ready to make some noise louder than any team at UND has before!”


Through every stage of his career so far, everything ties back to the sense of community and family for Hooker. Whether it’s with his teammates or the fans, he is always looking to have a positive impact wherever he can.

This fan’s tweet perfectly sums up the type of person he is outside of basketball:

Both on and off the court, Hooker is leaving his impact on the North Dakota community.

On the court, the numbers speak for themselves. In 2015-16, Hooker was tied for 32nd in the NCAA in terms of scoring, averaging a team-best 20.1 points per contest to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

The team won 17 games overall on the year, and finished tied for 5th in the Big Sky standings with a 10-0 record. After a down year in 2014-15, Hooker led the team back to the post-season in 2015-16, citing a sense of togetherness and “a brotherhood” on the team.

He has recorded 1,154 points so far in his career at North Dakota.

Off the court, it’s his humble attitude and willingness to engage with fans, whether it’s taking photos with them, or engage in races with children after the stands have cleared out after a hard-fought game. He plays the game with the right attitude, and it’s contagious. The impact he has had on the program has been a strong one, and he still has another year left.

At this pace, Hooker will go down as one of the all-time greats at the University of North Dakota.


With all of his success in the game, and more to come on the horizon, it all comes back around to the early days as a two-year-old with his dad.

“There’s a picture of me when I was only around 2 playing on a little hoop and he’s sitting in the background with the biggest smile on his face,” concluded Hooker.

Chances are that smile never left his face from that moment on, and it’s bigger than ever due to the type of person his son has turned into, both on and off the hardwood.

– T.B.