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Decision brings Penn State Mont Alto men’s basketball player back to the court

Decision brings Penn State Mont Alto men’s basketball player back to the court

A decision to make

On December 18, 2020, the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) announced the cancellation of the 2020-21 fall and winter seasons due to COVID-19. For Penn State Mont Alto Senior Quintyn Flemister and the basketball players, the announcement meant an abrupt end to his Penn State athletic career.


Men's basketball head coach Jack Schenzel remembers how difficult delivering the news of the cancellation was to his team.  "The news was very disappointing, especially for Quintyn," he said. "We were coming off a PSUAC championship, we had a lot of players returning that season. We had a chance to repeat as conference champions. The 2020-21 season was going to be his senior season. I could see it in his face as he was trying to hide the emotion."



Flemister, the 2019-20 PSUAC West Division Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, was coming off a season in which he averaged 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest. His points, rebounds and assist averages each ranked in the top three on the team. In three seasons, he had compiled 906 points, leaving him 94 shy of hitting the 1,000 mark before graduating in spring 2021. The PSUAC Executive Committee made an announcement months later, which would change Flemister's college career. In the same time frame, the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) announced that student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic could restore a season of eligibility. 


For Flemister, the announcement left him with a choice: graduate in spring 2021 following the completion of his bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies or claim the year of eligibility and find a meaningful way expand to his studies while finishing his college basketball career.


Flemister explored his options with Schenzel and the Mont Alto campus' Academic Support Staff to plot an academic course that made sense for Flemister to return for one more year. "I always had mixed emotions about coming back," said Flemister. "I knew that I wanted to fulfill my career here. Taking that chance was important to me at the time."


In fall 2021, Flemister returned to the Mont Alto campus to complete his Bachelor's degree with minors in Psychology and Health Policy Administration and returned to the court during the winter 2021-2022 season.


Senior Night 2022

Senior Night was something Flemister had been looking forward to since his first year at Penn State Mont Alto, and on Thursday, February 17, 2022, he was able to celebrate that milestone alongside his mother, father and uncle.


"Going into this year, I wanted my career to be fulfilled" Flemister said. "One of the things I wanted for myself was a senior night, I knew that a lot of my family would be there. Many of them couldn't make it throughout the year, so for all of them to be there made it a special night."


About 10 minutes into the game, Flemister's celebratory evening took an unexpected turn. As he was closing out on a shooter, he twisted his ankle and was unable to return to the court. He spent the rest of the evening cheering his team along from the players bench as the Penn State Mont Alto Nittany Lions defeated Penn State Brandywine 76 to 53.


On January 21, 2022, the PSUAC's council of athletic directors voted to allow every team into the basketball playoffs due to many long COVID-19 pauses around the conference. As the top seeded team in the west division, Penn State Mont Alto earned a first round bye and waited to see who their opponent would be from the play-in round. Following the first round, they were set to host Penn State New Kensington in the quarterfinals.


Flemister spent the next three days following senior night rehabbing his ankle in hopes for a return in the PSUAC Quarterfinals. Flemister knew he had to push through all the pain during rehab to have any chance at playing in the next couple of games. The rehab, which he described at times as excruciatingly painful was not enough and he missed the PSUAC Quarterfinal game. Penn State Mont Alto won 86 to 66 without their senior point guard, advancing to the semifinals to face off against Penn State Brandywine.


On Wednesday February 22, 2022, the Mont Alto Nittany Lions once again faced Penn State Brandywine in the PSUAC Semifinals.  During the preparation for that game, the team exemplified the next man up mantra. With their senior leader hurt, the rest of the team looked to fill the void. Players kept referring to "0 to 33", describing the player with the lowest number all the way to the last number on the team. Fresh off of rehab, Flemister participated in the pre-game warmup and played seven minutes in the first half before pain and lack of movement forced him to the bench. He never saw the floor again and Penn State Mont Alto's hopes of making it back to the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania for the 2022 PSUAC Championship were dashed, as they lost 65 to 56.


Penn State Mont Alto won its quarterfinal game at the 2022 USCAA National Tournament and moved on to the semifinals. Penn State Mont Alto hung on to defeat Kent State University Tuscarawas 61 to 56 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinal contest, Flemister tweaked his ankle again within the first minute. He played 29 minutes and shot 0 for 7 from the floor. Penn State Mont Alto went on to lose to Southern Maine Community College 61 to 44. For Flemister, he was unable to accomplish both of his team goals.


Individual accolades

Flemister received some good news prior to the USCAA virtual bid show, which seeded the top ten teams for the USCAA National Tournament on February 24, 2022. Prior to the team meeting to watch the bid show, the PSUAC published a press release for its end of the season awards. Flemister was named PSUAC West Division Player of the Year and West Division Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named a First-Team All-Conference player. 


"I started out as a role player my first couple of years, as a player I accepted that role," Flemister said, referring to his contribution as a backup guard and a defensive specialist compared to being a top scorer on the team. Flemister recalls winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award his sophomore year. Following that season some of the players graduated allowing him to take an increased role his junior season. "I wasn't focusing on those awards, I just wanted to play hard for my team", Flemister added talking about the individual accolades.


On Sunday, March 6, 2022, the USCAA hosted its virtual awards ceremony on YouTube during which Flemister was recognized as a First-Team All-American, Player of the Year and Student-Athlete of the Year. The USCAA Student-Athlete of the Year is given to an individual with an emphasis on academics and community involvement, versus athletic performance. The award winner is selected by a committee comprised of National Office members, board members, and member Athletic Directors.


Life after basketball

While his final season at Penn State Mont Alto didn't go as planned, he leaves behind a career that includes 1,321 career points, 531 rebounds, 307 assists and 106 charges taken. He will leave Penn State Mont Alto ranking third in points and rebounds, second in assists and first in charges taken in at least the last ten years.


Flemister is looking to continue his basketball career in a semi professional basketball league. If those plans don't work out, he has a backup option. He is looking to start his own business in childcare or the food industry. Flemister has a support system that will help him accomplish his goals as he will look to his life after graduating from Penn State Mont Alto. His future potential plans include starting up a food truck as something small to go with his background in culinary that stems to his days at Dauphin County Technical School.


"He has a 3.41 cumulative grade point average, been on the Dean's List the last five semesters, goes to read at local elementary schools, he stays in touch with Preston Harris from TEAM Impact, all of those things show you the character Flemister possesses," Schenzel said." The reason he is such a great basketball player is because he's a great person, with a big heart and wants to get better at everything, not just basketball." Schenzel said.