PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Quin Snyder was in a basketball nowhere land. He rode the bus on those three-movie road trips on the NBDL circuit where everyone in a uniform believed they were one big break away from a look at the big time.
He was several years and 800 miles removed from his days as the next bona fide coaching wonderboy at Missouri. Stripped of all the first-class amenities of a major D-I program, Snyder says he was happy in the minors.
“Pure basketball,” Snyder said.
No recruiting trips, no late-night phone calls that a star player was in trouble. There was scant media attention, no announcers delivering bad news, and definitely no NCAA investigation into every nook of the organization.
“Everybody wants to get out of there,” Snyder said. “But unless you can be there body, mind and spirit, it’s tough to get out.”
Snyder is out and back on a national stage. The coach who led the Tigers on a trip to the final eight before a precipitous fall knocked him out of the game, then into Austin, Texas, was hired this summer by the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s part of a revamped coaching staff led by Doug Collins trying to mold a young nucleus into a playoff contender.
If his path toward the NBA was long and winding, Snyder’s actual hire was like a breakneck bucket off the fastbreak.
“I know him and I trust him. He said, ‘Be a coach.’ I think I’ve got a pretty good idea what that means. If I’m screwing up, I’ll get it right.”
He gets his shot at the NBA because of a longstanding friendship with the Collins family.
Snyder and Chris Collins, Doug’s son, became close at Duke. Snyder was an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski and Collins a 3-point shooting guard. At the time, Doug Collins enjoyed talking basketball and player development with Snyder on frequent trips to watch games in Durham, N.C.
When Snyder was hired at only 32 to replace Tigers legend Norm Stewart at Missouri, Doug Collins was invited to practice and offered advice and input. When Snyder went through a messy divorce with the school, it was Collins who offered moral support and a place to crash.
Collins called it the right thing to do for a friend getting ripped in the national spotlight. “Quin is like a son to me,” Collins said. “My wife and I, we sort of put our arms around him. We love Quin.”
Snyder’s career had imploded only four years after his NCAA tournament success. His program was plagued by off-the-court problems that began with the 2003 arrest of point guard Ricky Clemons on domestic assault charges. Clemons subsequently accused a Tigers assistant coach of paying him cash, charges that an NCAA investigation failed to substantiate.