KU freshman Quentin Grimes explains reason for season-long struggles
The first 22 games of Quentin Grimes’ Kansas basketball career have been a self-described adventure of “ups and downs.”
While averaging just over 25 minutes per game and starting all 22 contests, Grimes has produced 7 double-figure scoring games, 5 games of 3 points or fewer and 10 games where he his final point total landed somewhere in between.
Before experiencing his first taste of Tuesday’s Sunflower Showdown, Grimes talked openly about his rookie season and the challenges he has encountered.
“It’s definitely been a struggle, for sure,” the former 5-star prospect and one-time projected lottery pick said. “But there’s always been those couple games where I almost broke out and have shown what I can do.”
One such moment came in his Kansas debut, where he scored a career-high 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting in a win over Michigan State at the Champions Classic.
His best stretch of the season came in late December/early January, when he reached double digits in 3 consecutive games — 16 vs. Eastern Michigan, 14 against Oklahoma and 19 at Iowa State — but he followed that up with 5 straight single-digit scoring efforts, including a 0-point outing in the rematch with Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse.
Despite the rocky road and inconsistency that, to this point, has defined him as a college player, Grimes said his head has remained in a solid place.
“I feel like it’s going good,” he said. “I’m staying in the gym and not getting down on myself and, moving forward, I feel like I’m on the right track, moving in the right direction. So I feel like it’s going to end up pretty well for me and the team going forward.”
As for any ideas why the 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard from The Woodlands, Texas, has had to endure those ups and downs and episodes of inconsistency, Grimes had a theory on that, too.
“Maybe just trying to figure out the offense, trying to be maybe too perfect out there, trying to meet every need that coach Self wants out there,” the freshman said. “Just trying to be too perfect and not just going out there playing free.”
While the former No. 10 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 per Rivals.com has underwhelmed in many areas thus far, he also has done his best to stick with it. Grimes has a good support system — from friends and family to trainers and teammates — and those people, and others, have helped him keep his head up while trying to make the transition.
Of late, it’s been baby steps, and not big explosions, that have backed Grimes’ claim that he is moving in the right direction.
Against Texas Tech last Saturday, in a huge win for the Jayhawks, Grimes scored just six points, but also dished 4 assists and swiped 2 steals while grabbing 3 rebounds.
Those 2 steals pushed his total to 9 for the season, with 5 coming in the first 18 games and the remaining 4 coming in the last 4 games.
“That question’s asked, it seems like, every game,” Self said after being asked if Grimes’ recent outing possibly was a precursor for a breakthrough. “But, yeah, I thought he did some good things. … I do see some positives moving forward in things other than scoring,” Self added. “He had 9 paint touches off the bounce against Texas Tech. The game before he had 1.”
And therein lies what appears to be the key for Grimes’ production. On nights when he’s aggressive, good things usually come. On nights when he’s not, his numbers tend to underwhelm.