Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography
By David Cordova
The high school career of Jahvon Quinerly has been nothing but successful. Two championships on the Under Armour Association circuit with SportsU program and also his time at Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, which included four Hudson County championships, a North Jersey, Non-Public B championship, over 1,000 points, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year Award in New Jersey and a McDonald’s All-American selection.
Now that high school is over, it is time for him to embrace the next level: college basketball. And he has taken his talents at one of the latest and greatest programs on the college hoops scene: the Villanova Wildcats, who are coming off of a season in which they won their second national championship in three years, and their third in school history.
When asked how college life has been for him so far, Quinerly replied, “It’s definitely different, I’m enduring the process, you know, getting accustomed to things, things like that, learning the system, going to school, getting up real early every morning and then not getting back to my room until the evening. It’s just been a good experience so far.”
As a college freshman, one thing that newcomers have to get adjusted to is learning how the team’s system works. When asked about how he’s become accustomed to it, he replied, “It’s definitely been tough, you really have to pay attention. You can’t really take any days off, take any plays off, you’ve got to bring it every day. It’s been tough, but I’m enjoying the process. I’m enjoying learning from my teammates and Coach Wright, and just learning the system.”
Another thing that one has to learn is the speed of the game. When asked what was different between high school and college, Quinerly replied, “I would say the speed, paying attention to details, playing defense, playing hard, just things like that.”
In Villanova’s Blue-White scrimmage on October 13th at the newly-renovated Finneran Pavilion on campus, Quinerly got to show the Wildcats fans a little of what they could expect. There were times in which he did make shots and also great passes, but then there were also the turnovers and the forced shots. But all in all, he is still learning the college game as many freshmen must do.
Every game that Villanova has in their non-conference schedule will be tough, especially the game on November 14th against Michigan, which is a rematch of April’s national championship game. Then there will be the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Florida around Thanksgiving. And then in December, there will also be the Big 5 games in Philadelphia against LaSalle, Temple, St. Joseph’s and Penn. And then in the end of the month, Big East Conference play will start.
The three games that Quinerly is looking forward to most is two games at Madison Square Garden in New York City: December 22nd against UConn and January 17th against St. John’s. And there is also one last game that the Hackensack, New Jersey native is looking forward to even more: the Big East Conference regular-season finale against Seton Hall at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 9th.
When asked about how he feels about the upcoming season, he replied, “Yeah, I can’t wait, the season is right around the corner, it’s basically here, I’m just excited.”
On the three homecoming games in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, he replied, “I’m excited, I’ve played in the Garden before, I’m just looking forward to getting back over there, playing against my man Sid Wilson. I know a lot of people in the Big East, so being able to compete against them, and play with my brothers as well, I just can’t wait for it.”
So far things are looking up for Quinerly, as he was named to the Bob Cousy Preseason Award Watch List, which is a preseason look at some of the best guards in college basketball around the country.
His predecessor, Jalen Brunson, a second-round draft pick by the Dallas Mavericks in this June’s NBA Draft has moved on to the greener pastures of the pros. He will now be battling for the starting position with sophomore guard Collin Gillespie, who complements him very well and has become sort of his mentor to Quinerly, due to his experience as a freshman on last year’s national championship team.
Things can be tough early, but they make for the moments when players will be battle-tested. Pretty soon, with the right seasoning and time, Jahvon Quinerly will be a force in the Big East Conference. In the meantime, school is now in session, and he will continue to learn from the gospel of head coach Jay Wright.
As for the Wildcats fans, you can see his excellent play at the Pavilion, which has been christened as “The Finn,” and the Wells Fargo Center, the arena in downtown Philadelphia, which is also the home of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Chances are you may even see the “jelly,” as well.