Akron’s Diggs returns to the court with perspective

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — His hair is longer, and his overall look might be a little leaner. On the court in the Cleveland-Akron Summer Pro-Am, though, Quincy Diggs looks like the same, hard-to-guard player. 
Diggs now officially has one more season to play at the University of Akron.  His yearlong suspension is over, and Diggs said he learned valuable lessons while spending nine months traveling the country to work and taking online classes in hopes of being reinstated.
“Basketball is easy,” Diggs said. “Life is hard.” 
Diggs was involved in an off-campus incident with an ex-girlfriend last summer. The police were called; reports were filed, but no charges were. 
A university review board met on the matter, and Diggs was suspended by the university for the 2012-13 season — and school year — for a violation of the school’s code of conduct. He was barred from campus until the end of the spring semester and was officially reinstated to the Akron basketball team in June after the NCAA verified his academic standing.
Here’s what he said about the matter: “A lot of people in my corner say what happened wasn’t fair. It’s not for me to say. I can just say it wasn’t what a lot of people thought it was. The university made a decision, and I had to live with it.
“At first I thought it was all over. Basketball is my life, and I thought I was done. I thought I’d go home, go to another school, I don’t really know. I had to decide to keep my head up and decide I’d do what I needed to get back. People have always told me basketball is a privilege, and now I understand that.” 
Diggs was Mid-American Conference Sixth Man of the Year in the 2011-2012 season when he averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds and played both guard spots and small forward for the Zips. He’s due to return to what should not only be a loaded lineup but a mature one as Akron chases its ninth-straight season with at least 22 wins.
“Quincy is in good graces with me,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “Where he is with basketball, I can’t say with certainty. Where he is with his life, I can say he’s made me believe he’s in a good spot. Anybody who hits rock bottom has the choice to stay there or fight back, and he’s done everything right in the time since he found out he was suspended.” 
Diggs spent last school year working for Lumitex, traveling and installing fiber-optic cables. He paid his own way for 18 credit hours worth of online classes via American University. 
“I’m just glad that’s behind me,” Diggs said. “I spent a lot of painful nights watching Akron play on TV and not being able to be part of it. I got through it.” 
Said Dambrot: “He was working his butt off. It wasn’t like he was given a job and was killing time. He did hard work. I’m sure it did open his eyes a little bit.”
Diggs, 23, transferred to Akron in 2010 after New Orleans dropped from NCAA Div. I status. He played in all 36 games for Akron’s NCAA tournament team in 2010-11 and all 34 in 2011-12. 
From a basketball standpoint, Diggs said “the rust is gone.” He said he’s willing to play point guard if he’s asked and doesn’t know if he’ll be a starter or return to a reserve role. He could graduate in December and said Akron “certainly has the pieces” to be playing big games in March. 
“I really respect that Quincy put our program first,” Dambrot said. “He did everything on his own, but he did things the proper way — from apologies to handling his academic situation to talking to the right people — so that if all went well, he could come back and be a part of our program. 
“He stayed out of the way and respected the situation, but he stayed in contact with me and with the right people. He could have run from this; he could have gone somewhere else. He chose to fight back, and I think we’ll see a guy on the court who has something to prove.”