SHENANDOAH, Texas (KTRK) -- Clifton McNeely is not only a basketball coach, he's a bit of a fortune teller.
"I was working the Adidas All-Star Camp in New York, and I remember guaranteeing the bigwigs that I had a future pro," McNeely, the head basketball coach at College Park High School in The Woodlands, recalled to ABC13. "That was when Quentin (Grimes) was going into his sophomore year of high school."
Seven years later, Quentin Grimes is, indeed, a pro. And Thursday, fortune-telling coach McNeely was part of a special celebration of Grimes' journey.
Grimes, who is a standout for the NBA's New York Knicks, was the first player in College Park High School history to start every game on varsity as a freshman. He capped his high school career with McDonald's All-American honors and was later voted American Athletic Conference player of the year following his junior season at the University of Houston. Grimes, who played two seasons at UH after transferring from Kansas, was the first Cougars player in 34 years to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
College Park retired Grimes' No. 5 jersey during a halftime ceremony at the football team's home opener vs. Klein Cain at Woodforest Bank Stadium Thursday.
"I never envisioned having my jersey retired," Grimes admitted Thursday. "It's a surreal moment. I was more nervous tonight than I've been before any NBA game. It's humbling having so many familiar faces here. It's humbling and exciting knowing your jersey is going to be in the rafters forever. Every time somebody walks in that gym, they'll know I put in work in that gym."
"Not only has what he has accomplished impacted basketball players - it's impacted our entire student body," McNeely said of Grimes' success. "Individuals now have dreams and goals and they realize that if you work for them, you have the opportunity to achieve them. Obviously, I see it daily with our basketball players trying to get to the collegiate level and play at the next level, but I think there is an inspiration for all of our students at College Park."
UH men's basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson was on hand for the ceremony, as were many of Quentin's former teammates. He signed a jersey for College Park High School principal Dr. Mark Murrell. Assistant Principal Ashley Johnson was wearing Grimes's Knicks jersey. Seeing so many close connections on hand for this special night is why it was so emotional for Quentin and his mother, Tonja Stelly.
"It's just nice to see all of his teammates here from College Park and U-of-H, it's emotional," Tojna said while fighting back tears talking about her son's ceremony. "Very humbling. We're very happy to be here. We're very proud of the hard work and dedication he's put in. It doesn't matter what you do in life, get up every day and work hard. It's very surreal and special when you see your kid's number on the back of a shirt others are wearing."
Grimes played in 71 games for the New York Knicks during the 2022-23 season. In his final season at UH, he helped lead the Cougars to a 28-4 overall record and the program's first appearance in the NCAA Final Four since 1984. He was a unanimous selection for the All-AAC First Team and was named the league's Player of the Year, a first since 1993.