Boys Basketball: Quinn Niego stands as Brother Rice’s Mr. Do-It-All
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org January 22, 2014 8:52PM
Brother Rice's Quinn Niego tries to move around Mount Carmel's Gilbert Tyson. | Stacia Timonere/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 24, 2014 12:44PM
There isn’t much Brother Rice senior Quinn Niego can’t do on the basketball court.
Whether it’s handling the ball, passing the ball, providing a pick or crashing the boards, the 6-foot-3 senior has a knack for getting things done.
He’s old-school in that regard.
Niego also can put the ball in the basket, ranking among the area’s top 10 scorers with an average of 19 points per game.
On Jan. 14, he dropped in a career-high 31 points during a victory over Nazareth.
The scary thing? Brother Rice coach Rick Harrigan thinks Niego’s best days are ahead of him.
“I think he’s going to be a phenomenal small college player,” Harrigan said. “He’s going to be a late bloomer physically. He’s 6-3, but he’s still skinny (170 pounds). He’s always in the gym. He wants to get better and he knows what it takes to be good. When he starts to fill out physically, he’s going to be something special.”
Niego ascent among the Southland’s top point producers isn’t surprising when considering his work ethic — he’s a gym rat — and his bloodlines. His father, Charlie, and uncles Tom, Joe and Mark starred at De La Salle before transforming Lewis into an NCAA Division II powerhouse in the mid-1980s. Quinn’s uncles hold the distinction of scoring every point during a 62-59 win by Lewis over Indiana Central on Feb. 20, 1986.
Uncle Joe was drafted in the fourth round by the Houston Rockets and Uncle Tom had a tryout with the New York Knicks.
Hoops success wasn’t limited to the male gender, either. Quinn’s aunts, Mary and Terry, were fixtures on Lewis’ women’s hoops team.
If there were any pressure to live up to the family name, however, Quinn never has experienced it beyond his own high standards.
“I’ve never felt any pressure,” he said. “I think people always expected me to be a basketball player. I played other sports (volleyball, baseball), but I never wanted to practice like I did with basketball. I always gravitated toward basketball.”
A St. Cajetan School graduate, Niego started his high school career at St. Rita before transferring after his sophomore year to Brother Rice.
“It’s been great,” said Niego of Brother Rice. “Everything has gone smoothly.”
Niego has heard from multiple small colleges. In fact, while he was leaving the court after his 31-point performance, St. Xavier offered a scholarship.
While grateful for the offer, Niego plans to allow the recruiting process play out.
“I want to stay open with my options during the season,” he said.
It’s a season Niego hopes the Crusaders (8-9) can finish with a flourish. Along with Ray Rubio, Rice boasts as dangerous a guard tandem as any in the area.
“I think this team is capable of winning games nobody expects us to win,” Niego said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. I think if we keep playing hard, we’re going to shock people.”