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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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
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.