Meet Quincy Diggs: FIBA's top-ranked American 3x3 player

Meet Quincy Diggs: FIBA's top-ranked American 3x3 player

Unless they’ve played in the NBA, there aren’t too many people on this planet who can say they’ve had the opportunity to competitively share the floor with the one and only LeBron James in the prime of his career. Overseas professional Quincy Diggs is one of the few who has.

“That shot he made on me was a travel. I'mma live with that until I'm dead,” Diggs told Basketball News over the phone of his pinned Twitter post. “That was a travel. I played great defense. I played great defense on the GOAT. I’ll never forget that video."

Diggs remembers how this moment came about. Going into his second season at the University of Akron in 2011, then-head coach Keith Dambrot invited his former Saint Vincent-Saint Mary star to practice with the team and stay conditioned, as the NBA was trying to come up with a solution with the NBPA to end the league’s lockout. LeBron practiced with the Zips for two weeks that summer, and on that particular day, bought Subway for the whole squad and hung out with the guys on campus.

“That was a pretty dope experience. We got to see how he'd take care of his body — and to me, it makes sense why he's still playing these days because we've seen how he takes care of his body; after he practices, he's in the ice baths and then he stretches for an hour, so it definitely makes sense for me why he's still playing,” Diggs said of LeBron, who is in his 20th NBA season and recently passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

“For him to be giving it back to us as well, teaching us the game and giving his little tips and pointers on how to stay aggressive, read the offense and take your time, that was really a truly amazing experience.”

Twelve years later, living in Austria, Diggs proudly represents the United States as FIBA’s top American men’s 3x3 player on Team Vienna, the runner-up of the 2022 World Tour Finals. Impressively enough, it was his first season playing in this format professionally, and it all came about randomly. What started as a way to stay in shape over the summer worked out more positively in his favor than he could’ve imagined.

“I didn't know anything about it, 3x3. I was new to it. I said, 'Might as well try it out,' because I couldn't get a job at the time. A friend (Nico Kaltenbrunner) invited me, I tried it out and then, that led to becoming into a season. I didn't know 3x3 has a season. So I did good in the (Eubone Challenger) tournament. I ended up going to Paris. And then, the team actually wanted me to stay on their team permanently. So I said, 'I got nothing else to do, I'm down to play,'" Diggs said.

“And so, we started racking in tournaments from all across the world. We started getting points 'cause we were winning and sometimes coming in second. Eventually, I didn't know anything about points being ranked, and then, I got a message randomly from a guy. It said, 'Hey man, you're the No. 1 player in the USA.' And there's a lot of people that play from the USA in these tournaments. Because we were winning and placing so high in tournaments, I racked up so many points so quickly that I became the No. 1. So that was pretty cool to see and notice. I didn't know anything about it, so it's pretty dope to be No. 1 in the United States (laughs)."

According to FIBA’s website, Diggs registered 539,036 ranking points in 41 games played and is the 23rd-best player in the world overall. On the World Tour, he led Team Vienna with 61 defensive rebounds and shot 67% on one-pointers.

None of this would’ve happened if it weren’t for Kaltenbrunner’s offer, and now, he’s reunited with former foes from his days playing in Oberwart with the Redwell Gunners in his first professional season — Filip Kramer, Matthias Lenortner and Martin “Marmak” Trmal. Former No. 1 player in the 3x3 world Stefan Stojacic, known as “Mr. Robot,” came back from a serious knee injury and was in peak condition as well. Altogether, the five made up a well-oiled machine.

With his guys flanking him, Diggs was able to pick up a half-court, three-on-three environment. However, it didn’t happen overnight.

“The 3-v-3 is far different from 5-v-5. The first thing I learned is you've gotta be in great shape because the ball is nonstop. You're nonstop defense. You're nonstop offense. The only time you get a break is when somebody calls a timeout,” Diggs said. “Me being a 5-v-5 player... You definitely get your rest basically, but it's nonstop. [With] 5-v-5, I'm more of a transition player. I love to get out and run. So it was hard for me to adjust at first, but then I started to get the hang of it. 

“My teammates were helping me out — knowing the tricks, the stuff to do. Communication's important. It's three guys out there trying to compete and you've gotta have a lot of communication out there. So it's definitely an adjustment.”

Whatever changes Diggs made most definitely worked. Not only can he boast his status at the top of the mountain representing America, he also has garnered the attention of Team USA’s 3x3 decision-makers. With his success during the season and those tournaments, he received an email from the program.

“That drew interest for the (Paris) Olympics, and my jaw just dropped when I heard that because it's always been a dream to try to play in the Olympics for like 5-v-5. But obviously, you have to be in the NBA, so they're not gonna take somebody off the streets,” Diggs said. “But just to hear that I can represent the country with a jersey with Team USA on the front is something I really want to accomplish and is a goal, and they're very interested in me right now. 

“So I talked to the director (Jay Demings), and it's been pretty dope. Now, it's the second chance in 2024 for 3x3 and everyone's trying to get points to qualify. I think since I had so many points is why they drew interest in me.”

Latvia won gold in the inaugural 3x3 men’s basketball tournament in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, while Team USA didn’t qualify. That said, the popularity of FIBA’s 3x3 league has skyrocketed.

It started in 2010 with the Youth Olympic Games, turned into a full-blown tour in 2012 and officially became an Olympic sport in 2017. Its social engagement increase is astounding, with nearly 2 million followers on Facebook, 452,000 YouTube subscribers and a whopping 362,000 followers on Instagram to name a few. Diggs is thankful he gets to play on such a stage.

“It's becoming worldwide and it's growing tremendously each and every year. So it's pretty crazy,” Diggs said.

Diggs doesn’t take how he got to this point for granted. During his senior season with the Zips in 2013-14, Dambrot was positive he would get some looks from NBA teams and be invited to a few team workouts, and Diggs was eager to fulfill a lifelong dream when he heard that. However, it didn’t work out that way. Once that realization kicked in, stress followed. Diggs didn’t have an agent, and the summer approached quickly. While he was working his tail off, his phone remained silent. 

Staying ready and working out, jobless, Diggs sat out for a whole year before the tide turned.

“In 2015, I got my first call from a pro team from Austria (the Redwell Gunners),” Diggs recalled. “So they asked me, they said, 'Hey, we're interested in you. We saw your highlights from your college career and we'd like to give you a shot.' And then, that's when my career started for me and it's been a hell of a journey for sure."

It didn’t take long for Diggs to put himself on the map with the Gunners. In his first year as a pro, he was instrumental in leading Redwell to an Austrian Bundesliga championship. Averaging 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per contest on 47.7% from the field, Diggs took home both the ABL Rookie of the Year and ABL Most Valuable Player awards in 2015-16.

“I was hungry. I was dedicated. I wanted to come compete,” Diggs said. “And then, I won the MVP, I won the championship and I won the Cup in that season. And then, I got a big offer from Germany and then, that's when my career started to elevate a little bit more and more each year. And now, I'm playing 3x3 and it's starting to elevate as well.”

Diggs has been all over the globe. He was born in Wichita, KS, played high school ball in Plano, TX, began his college career in New Orleans, LA and ended it in Akron, OH. As a competitor, he's played in all sorts of environments, including The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a popular midsummer hoops event with $1 million on the line for the winning team.

As a pro, he’s played for teams in Austria, Germany, France, Greece and the Czech Republic, and now he’s back to where it all started with Redwell. 

Currently, he’s awaiting the 3x3 season to begin in May with Team Vienna (and the Gunners' season follows in August). To pass the time, Diggs is an avid gamer and loves to host Fortnite tournaments for money on his Twitch channel. He plays a lot of NBA 2K as well, and was recently asked by the game’s developers to come back to the states to help with their motion-sensor process regarding signature moves. He’ll be back this month to do that.

“They said they see my videos and all that from my seasons and said, 'Hey we're interested. You can come to try to perform some stuff for us.' So I was like, 'Ay, of course I would.’ I never did anything like this, so this is why I'm saying it's pretty crazy. Probably because they heard of me after I put that stuff out with No. 1 player in America then. That's when they got interested. So I said, 'Hey, why not?’” Diggs said. “First thing, the restaurant I'm going to is Chipotle (laughs).”

If it’s not obvious, Diggs is also quite the joker, oftentimes posting comedic skits on his social channels. He even admitted that he took acting classes at Akron and regrets not majoring in drama because post-career he’d “like to be in front of a camera after it’s all said and done.”

“I like making people laugh. I'm seeing TikTok now and I'm just like, 'Man, I was doing this stuff way before TikTok,'” Diggs quipped. “I'm still trying to build it up and still send out some funny videos from time-to-time. But I enjoy doing stuff like that."

Soon turning 33, Diggs is proud of what he’s been able to accomplish, and he’s still processing being the No. 1 American player in 3x3. It’s been a long, bumpy, oftentimes uncertain road for Diggs, but the fruits of his labor have paid off. 

“I’m just living that Europe life, playing basketball and doing something I love,” Diggs said. 

“Can't complain."

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