What happens when one of the most decorated players in New Jersey high school basketball history faces a recruiting bribing scandal, is forced to decommit from Arizona, heads to Villanova and things turn even uglier? Just ask 22 year old Hackensack, NJ native Jahvon Quinerly. In the past few years he's literally seen and heard it all.
Jahvon made quite the name for himself at an early age. Quinerly was a mainstay and the starting point guard on the dominant Sports U "Fab 5" team that won two national championships on the Under Armour circuit. An AAU squad that featured current Minnesota Timberwolves Center Naz Reid, Westchester Knicks guard Louis King, Arizona State guard Luther Muhammad and Wagner guard Atiba Taylor. He would team up with King and Muhammad for high school ball at the prestigious Hudson Catholic.
The trio would go onto win four Hudson County championships capped off with a 2017 North Jersey Non-Public B Title over Bob Hurley's St Anthony's. Quinerly led the Hawks with 1,808 points over his 4 years, winning NJ Gatorade Player of the Year twice in his junior and senior seasons. The award had only been won twice by one other player: Karl Towns. In January 2018, Quinerly was named to the McDonald's All- American Game.
The success did not go unnoticed. Jahvon Quinerly was ranked as the #25 player in the entire country in ESPN's Top 100 of the Class of 2018. In addition to all the rankings, awards and accolades Quinerly was also at the helm of one of the most talked about and fastest growing phenomena's in youth basketball, "The Jelly Fam."
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, basically "The Jelly" is a crafty finger roll with a little finesse that Isaiah Washington created as his signature move and brought along his friends on board. They went viral and I mean seriously blew up. If they were able to profit off themselves instead of being NCAA athletes they would all be millionaires by now. Jahvon racked up nearly half a million followers on Instagram during this period. Here's a quick intro video if you're lost.
While Jahvon's stock and popularity began to rise, the drama and rumors also came in the offseason prior to his senior year. The FBI would get involved in a coaching scandal that led to the arrest of Arizona men's assistant basketball coach, Emmanuel Richardson, for bribing and giving a recruit $15,000 to commit to Arizona. The $15,000 was given to "the recruit" the day before Quinerly committed to the WIldcats. Quinerly would never comment on the situation, his family would hire lawyers and he never got in trouble as he shouldn't for the mistakes and immaturity of a grown man. It wouldn't take long after the news broke for JQ to announce his decommit and become one of the most sought after recruits in the country.
Jahvon would take a break from the recruiting process and the aftermath of Arizona. His senior year was around the corner and the senior trio of JQ, Louis, Luther had a TOC on their minds. Hudson Catholic would roll to a 18-4 regular season record with only 1 loss out of state during that span. On February 14, 2018 right before the Hudson County Tournament it was time to write a new chapter. Arizona was in the past and Jahvon Quinerly announced via Twitter that he would attend Villanova University and play for Jay Wright.
This seemed like the perfect fit. The pure point guard would stay close to home, head across Route 90 and play for a future Hall of Fame coach in a great environment and system. Villanova has just won the National Title in 2016 and a month after Jahvon Quinerly committed they would win the National Championship again in April 2018. Even better, Jalen Brunson the leader and guard of the 2017-18 Wildcats would declare for NBA Draft leaving playing time open for JQ.
But as you probably know by now, things never panned out at Villanova. Collin Gillespie solidified the starting role at point guard and Quinerly did not even play in three of the first 11 games for Villanova during the 2018-2019 season. More drama began after the loss to Penn on December 11, 2018 where Quinerly only logged 1 minute at the end of the contest. A few hours later an Instagram story on Jahvon's page appeared with, "Was my 2nd choice for a reason."
After initially saying his account was hacked, Quinerly would own up to his actions and apologize to the team. Jay Wright would brush it off saying, it was just “the normal frustration of a young kid that’s used to playing a lot, and not playing." It would turn out to be a foreshadow of the beginning of the end for Jahvon at Villanova. Quinerly would appear in 25 games his freshman season at Nova and never started. He averaged 3.2 ppg and 0.9 apg with 9.2 minutes a game. Quinerly would also not play in the Big East or NCAA Tournament. This was the same kid that was that supposed to be taken in the first round of the summer's 2019 NBA Draft. And he never really got a chance to showcase his skills his freshman season.
In January, Quinerly told reporters, "I want to say I didn't understand why I [wasn't] playing at first. That's why it was so hard. I thought preseason went well so … I was kind of like, how can I say it? I was blindsided that I wasn't playing. That's how I'll put it."
Jahvon would also admit that life got very difficult for him after the recruiting scandal and during his tenure at Villanova. “I felt like a cloud was following me,” Jahvon wrote in a letter to the NCAA. “People looking at me in a different way. I was judged off of things people saw on social media rather than getting to know me or who I really am as a person.”
Sure enough in April, Jahvon would be on the move again. He would deal with the recruiting process for a third time and in June 2019 Quinerly selected Alabama.
Unfortunately for Quinerly, there would be one last bump in the road. He was denied his transfer waiver and forced to sit out the entire 2019-2020 season. The reality that it would be almost 18 more months before Quinerly could play meaningful basketball for the Crimson Tide had sunk in. But according to his teammates and coaches, Jahvon embraced his role better than anybody in his redshirt season. He was apart of the scout team and his teammates and coaches would often joke he's the best scout player in Alabama history and some days the best player on the court at practice.
Fast forward to November 25, 2020 after a COVID-19 filled offseason and the wait was finally over. Quinerly would get his first career college start in the season opener against Jacksonville State and would not disappoint. Logging 26 minutes Quinerly tallied 18 points in an 81-57 victory. Jelly JQ was back. Quinerly has continued to have a nice bounce back year for the Crimson Tide, fourth on the team in scoring with 11.2 ppg and leading the team in assists (3.1 apg) despite missing a few games with an undisclosed medical issue. He dropped a career high 24points in a Dec 29 win vs Ole Miss and had 22 points in a Jan 19 win over LSU. Alabama has also climbed the rankings this season sitting at #10 in the country with a 14-4 record and a perfect 9-0 SEC record to put them atop the conference.
While Jahvon is still a long way from his ultimate NBA goals it's nice to see that he's settled down in Tuscaloosa, found his home and is contributing significantly for a Top 10 team in the nation. The Crimson Tide have nine SEC games remaining before they gear up for the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, where they are currently projected as a 2 seed by Joe Lunardi.
One thing we know for sure is that all New Jersey basketball junkies will have their eyes glued on Jahvon Quinerly come March.
After winning the SEC regular season title, the Tide rolled in the SEC Tournament on a high note and Jahvon Quinerly would have best stretch as a collegiate player. Jahvon averaged 15.6 ppg with 3 apg and 2.6 rpg during the SEC Tournament and was named Tournament MVP after Alabama defeated LSU in the SEC Title game in an instant classic. The Tide earned a 2 seed in the East Region where they will meet Rick Pitino's Iona Gaels on Saturday afternoon 3/20 at 4:00 pm on TBS.