Former UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels backup point guard Quentin Thomas has exchanged the basketball for a microphone. Thomaswho played at UNC for four years, won an NCAA championship his freshman year, and averaged 15 minutes per contest as a senior last yearhas recently been working with local producer 9th Wonder, the former Little Brother who’s previously worked with Murs, Jay-Z and Destiny’s Child.

The pair met after WXDU 88.7 FM hip-hop DJ Mr. Flowers (also known as me, Eric Tullis) heard the Tar Heel could rhyme. Flowers was reluctant to act on the lead, since everybody is a rapper these days. With the exception of Shaq (on a good day), basketball players are usually the worst and least successful ones (see: Allen Iverson, Ron Artest, Tony Parker). After hearing some of Thomas’ older material that he had recorded in his hometown of Oakland, Calif., Flowers introduced Thomas to 9th Wonder.

Thomas has been working in 9th Wonder’s recording studio at N.C. Central University for several months now, taking pointers from his primary producer, recording at a phenomenal pace, and working with other producers like E. Jones, Fatim and Khrysis. Thomas has recorded at least an hour’s worth of songs with 9th Wonder and has collaborated with emcees including M1 Platoon’s Scoop and Kooley High’s Rapsody.

But it may be a while before you get to hear the material. The dominant hip-hop rumor is that 9th Wonder is harvesting volumes and volumes of other artists’ finished material, and most of the stuff won’t be released in due time. But 9th does seem particularly impressed with Thomas: “Quentin’s doing things on the mic that I’ve been trying to teach rappers how to do for a long time,” he says.

Other people seem to be equally impressed, at least according to Thomas: “Sometimes 9th will have people up in the studio, and he’ll play some of my tracks for them without telling them who did it. They’ve always liked the songs, and I’ll be standing right there. When we tell them that it’s me, they can’t believe it.”