In our #ThrowBackThursday series we take a closer look at the players who have had a significant impact on Belgian basketball throughout the years.
This time around we take you back to the ’90s as we take a closer look at a player who will forever be remembered by any Belgian basketball fan who was lucky enough to see him at work. The athletic swingman with arguably the highest vertical of any player that has ever graced our courts: the one and only Daren Queenan.
From his high-rising mid-range jumpers to his impossible ‘hand in the face’-threes and his spectacular slam dunks, Queenan always found a way to get the fans ecstatic, while at the same time leaving his opponents in complete disarray. After 7 seasons in Belgium he is still considered as one of the best scorers we’ve ever seen on the Belgian courts and he holds a career average of 27.6 ppg.
And yet, ‘Q’ – as he was quickly subbed – came from pretty humbling beginnings.
When he graduated from his local High School in Norristown, Pennsylvania, practically no one was interested in that 1m94 tall kid who had been playing as an undersized Forward/Center throughout his High School career. No one, except the Assistant Coach from the nearby college Lehigh (NCAA) Fran McCaffery who convinced Head Coach Tom Schneider and the rest of the coaching staff to recruit Queenan and convert him into a Guard/Forward.
From then on Q started soaring and in his freshman season he led Lehigh in scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) and brought them all the way to the NCAA tournament for the first time in Lehigh’s history, earning him the ECC conference Rookie of the Year award and a selection to the All-ECC First Team along the way. The following three seasons at Lehigh he would continue to improve and add 3 more selections to the All-ECC First Team to his name and was awarded the ECC Player of the Year award in his junior year (1986-’87). In his final year at Lehigh he had upped his stats to a very impressive 28.5 ppg & 9.7 rpg and led the school to their second ever NCAA Tournament, unfortunately again stranding in the first round.
During the course of his 4 year college career Queenan gathered up several school records, including the All-Time Scoring record with 2703 points and the highest score in a single game when he dropped 49 points in a game against Bucknell. Records that are still standing today. It is therefore no surprise that in 1997 he was inducted into the Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame for his outstanding college career.
Despite all these accolades and his impressive college career averages of 22.9 ppg & 8.6 rpg Queenan wasn’t drafted by the NBA and although he did get an invite to the Detroit Pistons training camp he was eventually cut before the season started.
Queenan then launched his professional career with the Philadelphia Aces in the USBL before he got drafted by Charleston in the 1988 CBA Draft (6th round) where he ended up averaging 24.7 ppg during the 1988-’89 season. The next couple of seasons Queenan would bounce around the CBA playing for the Rapid City Thrillers, Albany Patroons, La Crosse Catbirds and the Memphis Rockers still hoping to land him a spot in the NBA, before he finally decided that going overseas was probably the best career-move for him.
It is thus that – after a year in the Argentinian First Division – Queenan then finally came over to Belgium and signed with the newly promoted Okapi Aalst team (then called Good Year Aalst) for the 1992-’93 season, having learned about the Belgian League from his cousin Brian Shorter who was then the leading man for Oostende. In no time Queenan seduced the critical but very loyal Okapi fans and turned into their undisputed favorite as he recorded averages of 28.3 ppg & 6.8 rpg, helping Okapi to the 11th place in the standings with a 9-17 record.
The following season Queenan led Aalst to new heights with a 3rd place in the standings (18-8 record) and a playoff berth while again averaging stellar numbers with his 28.2 ppg & 6.6 rpg. It marked the first time that Aalst reached the playoffs… but it certainly wouldn’t be the last time.
With the exception of their innaugural season Queenan would lead Aalst to the playoffs in each of his 7 seasons with the club but unfortunately for them never managed to get them past the Semi-Finals as Charleroi (in 1996 & 1997) and Antwerp (in 1999) each time proved to be too strong for them.
Queenan recorded his best numbers of his career in Belgium during the 1997-’98 season when he finished with averages of 29.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 apg & 1.0 spg, leading Aalst to the 4th place in the Regular Season Standings with a 16-10 record and giving his team their first shot at a trophy as he guided them to the Finals of the Belgian Cup where they were eventually defeated by Oostende (90-80).
In his final season at Aalst (1998-’99) Queenan – with the help of Boro Vucevic, Pieter Loridon & Steve Ibens – managed to put Aalst at the top of the Standings in the Regular Season with a 22-4 record, earning him the Player of the Year award and one final shot at the coveted Championship title. But it wasn’t to be as Antwerp proved to be too much in the Semi-Finals and once again it was eventually Spirou Charleroi who lifted up their 4th consecutive title.
All in all Queenan competed for Aalst during 7 glorious seasons and ended up with career numbers of 4749 points (27.6 ppg), 1047 rebounds (6.1 rpg) & 198 assists (1.2 apg), while shooting 57% from the field overall, 35% from behind the arc and 76% from the FT-line.
After his time in Belgium Queenan would go on for 3 more seasons as a professional basketball player, playing for Apollon Patras (Greece 2nd Division), Brandt Hagen (German 1st Division) and eventually splitting his final season as a pro (2001-’02) between Caceres CB and Joventut Badalona in the Spanish Liga Endesa before retiring.
Queenan – who celebrated his 54th birthday earlier this week – is currently back in the States where he works as a financial planner for the Fortune 100 company TIAA.
With this article we at TIB salute him for being one of the All-Time greats of Belgian basketball and offer him a heartfelt “Thank you!” for all the amazing memories he has given us.