No journey to the NBA is alike. But few, if any, have taken the same path that North County High School alum Trevelin Queen is attempting.
No consistency, no guided path and only one season of AAU basketball. Throw in two years on his high school varsity team, three junior colleges from each corner of the country and Queen has one wild story.
The 23-year-old has seen it all. He’s battled homelessness, resided in five different cities and played for six different teams since his junior year of high school. His family has been there for him, but ultimately Queen has been on his own. All of it just for him to reach his ultimate dream, to hear his name called in the NBA Draft.
Entering North County, Queen had no idea on how to progress as a basketball player. There was no one close to him that knew the journey and the process required to turn a young star into the next NBA draft pick. His first organized game was on his junior varsity team. Even his school didn’t provide him much of a path.
“North County is not really a high school that takes it sports passionately,” Queen told NBC Sports Washington. “It was more of a hobby for them because they have a sport, they might as well play it.”
After a year on varsity, he moved to Florida, where his sister lived, to try to transfer to a basketball-oriented school. Missing the deadline to transfer, he lost his entire junior year before returning to Glen Burnie, Md. Once he was back, his old high school coach was gone and the new one only played him in a limited capacity. That’s when he finally joined an AAU team before his senior season.
That circus was just the start of a carousel that would send him to a country-wide journey before landing at New Mexico State.
“I had to find a new relationship, new fit for the environment I was in or where I was at. It’s definitely a mental battle for each and every year,” Queen said. “But each and every year I got to a different school I progressed as a person on and off the court.”
He started at Prince George’s Community College. Next was the College of Marin in California where he had a period of homelessness, bouncing from place-to-place and living out of a car with his friends before New Mexico Military Institute completely altered his life. A far different experience from AAU to one-and-done Power 5 program for other draft prospects.
Through his process, the guard has been “naked” and exposed to a new ordeal at every landing spot. He’s adapted and grown, calling every step another level as if in a videogame to get where he wants to be.
“I go from Prince George’s to now the third-richest county in the country, Marin County, where a burger and fries are $15,” Queen said. “So, all this practice and everything has just helped me build relationships and build trust between people. Help me read situations better and clearer.”
“I would definitely say them JUCOs really brought the best out of me. I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today without going to JUCO.” he added.
It landed him at New Mexico State for two seasons. His first team and system that he was a part of for more than just a handful of months. Finally, Queen had a home and there he thrived.
Queen quickly earned his minutes with the Aggies. The second game of his Division I career he scored nine points and four rebounds. By January he was consistently reaching double figures and once they reached the WAC Championship he exploded for 27 points where he was named tournament MVP.
His senior season he was a starter and their leading scorer, in position to lead them to their fourth straight tournament appearance.
Then the coronavirus happened. Queen never took the court at their conference tournament in Las Vegas. No second chance to shine in March Madness.
The combo guard received a good amount of scouting from NBA teams throughout his time with New Mexico State. A familiar feeling for him, being the only player to receive attention on several of his JUCO teams.
In a draft class full of talented wings, he’s another crafty scorer and a good facilitator. While the class is not short of them, his defensive skills and athleticism are where he can stand out. His age, though, is against him since his path has taken him longer than most. Still, there are some things he knows he needs to work on – finishing at the rim through contact and not ball-watching too much on defense.
During the pandemic, both are difficult to work on. Queen can’t access a gym or training staff to get the reps based on feedback from NBA teams. Even learning to talk to teams through FaceTime and Zoom has been a challenge.
“It’s definitely a learning experience. I couldn’t prepare for this type of situation," Queen said. "How can you learn new stuff to where I can survive or get by if I didn’t have a certain thing so It’s really been helpful in a lot of ways. It’s new tactics and new habits that I have to create to better myself.”
He’s not the most talented player who’s available to get drafted whenever the 2020 NBA draft is held. He might not even be one of the top 60 prospects. But, if there's anyone that will be prepared through one of the most trying times in this generation's lifetime, it's Queen. He'll be prepared. He'll find a way to get there because he always has.
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: