Clem Haskins's heart just about stopped cold when he heard the words Quincy Lewis and jail in the same sentence. Haskins, Minnesota's coach, was at his farm in Campbellsville, Ky., last May when a stranger called to tell him that Lewis needed money for bail. Haskins's ticker revived a moment later when Lewis came on the line to explain that he wasn't really in jail but in a makeshift holding area on campus where he was participating in a fund-raiser for Easter Seals. "Scared the hell out of me," recalls Haskins, who gladly forked over the $50 to spring Lewis, his best player. "He does so many civic-minded things, I can't keep track of them. When he tells me he's going" to do something, I say, 'Can't it wait until next April?' "
Such is life when you're coaching Citizen Quincy, a lithe 6'7" senior forward. Lewis is not only the top scorer in the Big Ten, with a 22.7 average through Sunday for the 19th-ranked Golden Gophers (12-4), but is also the vice chairman of Minnesota's student-athlete council.
He's a student of the game, too, relying on prudent shot selection and movement without the ball to get open. "Quincy isn't a leaper or a dunker, but he can score," says Haskins, noting that Lewis makes nearly 40% of his three-point shots. "That's why to me he's a lottery pick. There's not a better shooter in the country, night in and night out."
Haskins's biggest gripe about Lewis is Lewis's reluctance to shoot more, but that's just a natural extension of Lewis's desire to blend in with his surroundings wherever he goes. He rarely wears athletic garb away from the gym, and he makes a point of attending other sports events on campus like any other undergraduate. "I want folks to see me as a student, not just a basketball player," Lewis says. "There's more to life than basketball."
Lewis fulfills his extracurricular responsibilities with the same efficiency he brings to the court. He rises every day at 7 a.m.—even on weekends—and juggles his chores with the help of daily To Do lists. "He's got 12 things done by 11 o'clock, and I haven't even brushed my teeth yet," says Gophers forward Miles Tarver, who is Lewis's roommate. In December, Lewis ran a food drive that was put together by the student-athlete council. He makes frequent visits to Twin Cities-area hospitals (below, at the Fairview Medical Center) and schools and has been known to cook dinner in his apartment so university administrators and students can get to know each other better.
Coming out of Parkview High in Little Rock, Ark., Lewis was an important reserve in his first two seasons at Minnesota. As a sophomore in the 1997 NCAA Midwest Regional final he came off the bench to score 15 points to help the Gophers defeat UCLA and send them to their first Final Four in school history. Lewis averaged 14.5 points last season, even though he spent much of his time in the paint because of Minnesota's lack of size up front. With the arrival this season of 7'1" freshman Joel Przybilla, Lewis is finally able to play on the perimeter, where he's most effective. Last week he went for 30 points in a victory over Michigan and had 29 in the game before that, a defeat of Iowa.
Lewis is on target to graduate in May with a degree in environmental studies. The NBA is probably in his future, but if it isn't, well, there's more to life than just basketball. "I've grown a lot as a player but even more as a person," he says. "My parents taught me to be offended if someone says I'm just a jock. Basketball comes and goes, but the things I've accomplished here will take me much further in life."