When Jahvon Quinerly stepped foot onto Villanova’s campus at the start of the new school year, Villanova fans were expecting an immediate impact on the court. After losing the National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson to the NBA draft, the Wildcats had a hole at the point guard position that many expected Quinerly to fill with his explosive offense and impressive ball-handling skills that made him one of the most highly coveted recruits in his high school class.
There was reason for optimism surrounding Quinerly as he had achieved all the accolades a high school player could dream of. A 5-star recruit, McDonald’s All-American, and 2x Gatorade Player of the Year in New Jersey, this Hackensack native had it all and was expected to be a border one-and-done talent. However, things did not go to plan early on for Quinerly.
After playing 17 and 16 minutes respectively against Morgan State and Quinnipiac to start the season, Quinerly struggled to adjust to college basketball while scoring 6 points and dishing out 4 assists but turning the ball over 5 times. He was hyped up for his ball-handling skills, but Quinerly’s multiple turnovers and sloppy defense resulted in him being benched in 4 of the next 9 games and receiving more than 8 minutes in only 1 of those 5 appearances. Unfortunately, Villanova started the season rough by losing 4 of their first 11 matchups which corresponded to Quinerly’s lack of production.
Quinerly played just 1 minute in a loss to UPenn due to Collin Gillespie fouling out. After the game, Quinerly posted “was my second choice for a reason” on his Instagram account which created drama within the program. Lucky for both Quinerly and Villanova, Jahvon took this as an opportunity as a second chance and has turned both his and Villanova around at the start of Big East play.
Gillespie suffered a concussion in practice prior to the UConn game, and Quinerly responded with his best game of the season. He played 25 minutes with a stat line of 10 points, 4 assists, 1 steal and only 1 turnover. This breakout game for Quinerly has resulted in him receiving at least 10 minutes in all four Big East games so far in which Villanova has a perfect 4-0 record. Here’s a breakdown of Quinerly’s effect on the Wildcats in his new role.
When Jahvon Quinerly steps on the court for Villanova, he offers the Wildcats a speedy guard who can change the speed of the game that starter Collin Gillespie simply can’t do as efficiently. Whether it is blowing past a defender for an easy layup or going coast-to-coast as seen below, Quinerly shows flashes of what made him such a dynamic scorer in the high school scene. The quickness that Quinerly possesses forces opposing defenses to stay on their heels as he can easily run past a defender not anticipating the burst of quickness. Although other players on the team such as Phil Booth and Gillespie are capable of driving to the paint, it does not seem to come as easily compared to Quinerly’s ability.
Another effect of Quinerly can be seen in Villanova’s flow on offense. This season’s Wildcats have been playing at a much slower pace, ranking 321st in possessions per game, and has seen less ball movement than in the past. Typically, Phil Booth or Eric Paschall gets the ball and runs an isolation play which takes the rest of the team out of the offense. However, once Quinerly enters the game, the offense is noticeably more fluid as the ball moves around the perimeter more often which creates more open shots for shooters such as Phil Booth, Collin Gillespie and Joe Cremo.
The last effect of Quinerly’s improved play is his efficiency on both sides of the ball. Early in the season, Quinerly was averaging more turnovers than both assists and steals per game which results in a net negative player efficiency. However, in the previous 5 games in which Quinerly has received a significant role in the rotation, his player efficiency has soared. In those games, Quinerly has 9 assists and 4 steals compared to only 3 turnovers. This fact can only help the Wildcats overall as they limit the opponents possessions while getting more productive looks on offense.
Overall, Jahvon has shown significant growth since his rough start on the Main Line. It seems Quinerly has fully bought into Coach Wright’s culture here at Villanova and it shows by his improved production on the court. There have been flashes of what made him the 26th ranked recruit in the class of 2018 but as it becomes more consistent every game, Villanova’s offense will continue to grow through out the rest of the season.