LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Neemias Queta made a somewhat surprising decision a couple weeks ago when he announced he was returning to Utah State for his junior season.
Queta would have most likely been a first round NBA Draft pick, and the first Utah State player to be taken in the draft since Greg Grant was selected in the 6th round in 1986.
But Queta has two primary reasons for returning to school. First and foremost, Queta and the Aggies still have unfinished business. After winning a second straight Mountain West Tournament title with a stunning victory over San Diego State, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. So Queta wants another chance to win Utah State’s first game in the Big Dance since 2001.
“It took a big toll on my decision,” Queta said. “That left a really hard scar on our hearts. I felt like everybody on the team wanted to get back there, try to play and get a win there. But we couldn’t play. Going to the tournament again would be something that I want to fulfill.”
Secondly, the NBA draft is shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty right now. He already tested the NBA waters last year, got good feedback from coaches and GM’s that he can use in college for another year.
“Exactly,” he said. “I can still work on those things and improve. And instead of having only one year to work on those things, I’ve got two. They said I need to get bigger, stronger, working on my hands, stay stronger with them, and get a better outside shot.”
Queta also feels last season was not a true representation of his abilities. He missed 12 games recovering from a knee injury and never felt completely comfortable on the court.
“Physically, I was always 100 percent,” said Queta, who averaged 13.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore. “But in my mind, I would always second guess and just be tentative instead of making the right play. I wasn’t going as hard as I should have.”
With Sam Merrill and Diogo Brito graduating, and Abel Porter transferring to Ohio State, much of the leadership role is going to fall on Queta, who is looking forward to that opportunity.
“I trust my teammates and my teammates trust me,” Queta said. “Everybody is going to have to step up in their games. The Mountain West hasn’t had a lot of three-peats lately, and I just feel like we can get it.”
Queta would normally travel back to his home country of Portugal over the summer, but with the coronavirus pandemic, that isn’t happening this year.
“I wouldn’t be able to work out as much as I’m working out here,” Queta said. “Security is a lot stricter there, and I don’t want that. I want to keep improving and getting better.”