Quintin Bailey knows first hand how difficult it can be to leave family and move to a new country to pursue dreams.
Bailey, a freshman on the Citrus men’s basketball team came to the United States from Stratford, New Zealand in order to pursue his basketball career in an environment where basketball is popular.
Bailey packed up his bags and traveled approximately 6,668 miles to Glendora, California in October of 2016.
Citrus College welcomed Bailey, a kinesiology major, with the opportunity to play on the men’s basketball team, where teammates and head coach Brett Lauer have supported him on his new journey.
“They’ve been great on and off the court,” Bailey said. “I was nervous for the first few days, but now it’s great.”
Lauer credited Bailey for his impact on the team during the season.
“There hasn’t been one negative moment,” Lauer said. “He has great body language, he cares about his teammates and most of all, he cares about winning only,” Lauer said. “He doesn’t care how the wins happen or who scores the baskets. All he cares about is helping the team win, which makes him effective.”
Athletes from around the world come to the U.S. because of the reputation American athletes have for their respective sport, such as NBA players Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Aron Baynes of the Detroit Pistons, both from New Zealand.
The transition of leaving one’s home in a different country can be difficult, but not for Bailey.
“I played two tournaments in the States before and I came here to play basketball and compete,” Bailey said. “Just like how rugby is popular back home in New Zealand, basketball is more competitive out here.”
Freshman guard and teammate Andrew Ammann said in a Twitter message the team has enjoyed having Bailey as an international player and have learned more about his home country.
“Throughout the year we have all asked him about his home in New Zealand and what it’s like there compared to here in the United States,” Ammann said. “It’s been interesting for us to learn more about New Zealand and about a culture that’s different than ours.”
Although Bailey arrived at Citrus while the men’s basketball team was already in training prior to the season, Ammann said he admired Bailey for immediately adjusting to the basketball team.
“Quintin adjusted quickly to our style of play and fit right in with the team,” Ammann said.
Lauer said he was also happy with the way Bailey fit in with the team coming from a different country.
“He’s gotten used to the speed of the game and the strength of the college players,” Lauer said. “Every high school guy goes through it, but he is from another country and the game is a little different out there, not to say that one way is better, but he has adjusted well to everything.”
The 6-foot-7-inch forward, who made the switch from rugby to basketball at age 13, said his game has developed ever since he came to the U.S.
“I’m a lot stronger by doing post moves,” Bailey said. “But now I’m just working on my jump shot and trying to get bigger to compete against bigger players.”
Ammann said he has seen the growth in Bailey’s game from when he first joined the team in October.
“He has always been very skilled, especially for a post player, but he adjusted very well to the speed that our team likes to play at, as well as getting a lot better at being a more aggressive scorer and getting a lot of rebounds,” Ammann said.
The New Zealander grabbed 111 total rebounds in his first season at Citrus while also getting 20 steals and blocking eight shots.
Bailey impacted the team this year, shooting 81.8 percent from the free throw line and scoring 135 total points.
Bailey is already looking ahead into the future to pursue his dream here in the U.S. to play basketball at a four-year institution and eventually make it his career.
“I want to move on to a university and play pro if I can,” Bailey said. “Otherwise, I’ll head back to New Zealand and play in the leagues back home.”