MARYSVILLE — Presented with the option of continuing his successful basketball career or joining the Armed Forces, Quantez Gurley followed his uncle’s footsteps — the Navy.
He now oversees the Washington Sabers, formerly a semi-professional basketball team that currently hosts the Ultimate Basketball Camp every summer in Marysville.
“Coaching youth is a passion of mine,” he said. “It kind of breathes life into me.”
All ranges of skill come to his camp. He tries to keep the varied skill levels in separate groups, “trying to make it great learning experience for everybody,” he said.
The kids don’t just learn basketball fundamentals, but also the history of the game and get to research their favorite players.
Quantez tries to get them to think outside of contemporary players like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant.
The attention of discipline that Quantez experienced in the Navy is something he works into his coaching.
“Any sport you play it’s all about being disciplined and being coachable,” he said. “It’s harder for kids to learn when there’s no discipline.”
Though regimen is important, he wants the kids to take away one thing from camp: “Just have fun and give it your 100 percent effort,” he said. “If you’re not having fun than it’s not worth doing.”
Before the camps, he coached semi-pro players. But he actually likes working with kids better.
“Those guys are already well-established,” he said of the semi-pro players.
He had a great experience coaching semi-pro, saying he met some good players and people, but he was also admittedly a little jaded by some of the personalities.
“They figure they know everything,” he said. “There’ not much you can say to them on what they can learn.”
Which is why he rather coach youth.
“I love this so much more,” he said. “To see them develop over time.”
He was assistant coach for the Snohomish Explosion in 2007, but started up the Sabers in 2012 when the other squad disbanded in 2010.
In the interim he was still in the Navy and did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He still played basketball and tried to assemble pickup teams out of Seattle and at youth camp.
With the goal of ultimately keeping fundamental basketball in the area, he opted to have the Sabers function as a sports clinic for kids ages 4 to 12.
“This year is the best group we’ve had as far as skill level” with 60 percent of the camp being returnees, he said.
Graduating high school in 1995 in Alabama, Gurley received scholarships for basketball and football from schools including Vanderbilt, Florida A&M and the University of Alabama. However, Gurley joined the Navy, something he wanted to do since age 12.
When he was in the Navy, it wasn’t the end of his basketball years. He continued to play and coach recreationally in the service.
In 1999 he moved into Snohomish County while still active Navy. He has coached for Marysville Parks and Recreation for 11 years. He had two kids go through Marysville’s basketball youth programs.
His son, Anfernee Gurley, plays for Archbishop Murphy.