KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KWCH) -- Quentin Grimes provoked the ire of a lot of Jayhawk fans this year: a top recruit who could not produce throughout the bulk of the season. However, Bill Self rode the turbulent times and trusted his freshman guard. Now, it's paying off when it counts. His roller coaster season is reminiscent of Malik Newman's last year, but is he already this team's "Postseason Leek?"
"Not yet," Bill Self said. "If a guy goes off and gets 30 tomorrow and is Most Valuable Player of the tournament, then you could say that."
Newman was constantly criticized by Coach Self last season, after a sluggish start, averaging 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the year. He then blew up in the Big 12 Tournament, scoring 72 points in three games, earning the Big 12 Tournament MVP award.
Grimes only scored 30 in two games combined so far for the Big 12 Tournament, but his end-of-season turnaround is raising eyebrows and is proving a much-need spark.
"Especially in the situation that we're in, you're going to have to have some guys step up that haven't maybe been asked to do it in the past because they're so young and maybe play beyond their years," he said. "Quentin did that today."
Grimes said it was a feeling of relief that all of his hard work is finally showing in the box score. He shot 5-8 from three, 6-13 overall for 18 points against West Virginia.
"Hard work always paying off, countless reps, staying after practice, just seeing the ball go through the hoop was a good feeling tonight."
Although he only shot 1-6 from three in the quarterfinal round against Texas, Self said he can see his confidence level is through the roof. Grimes believes every shot can go in.
"He's playing with more confidence. A good shooter shouldn't remember their misses, they should only remember their makes. I think he's going through their makes," Self said. "I think he's going through a phase right now where he actually feels that way."
And the freshman is feeding off of the energy.
"Hitting a three, the crowd loves the threes. Getting the crowd involved, the team is pumped up, and my teammates were looking for me every time to hit another three," Grimes said. "They kept looking for me and I kept knocking them down."
Grimes left the final minutes of the semifinal game with cramps in his left calf, but he is starting against Iowa State in the championship game.