Jahvon Quinerly worked hard at Villanova to learn a system that he had never experienced and was “really getting there” when the Wildcats’ season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, coach Jay Wright said.
But Quinerly, who came to the Main Line as the highest-ranked of the program’s four freshmen last year, decided he wanted to find a different system that better fit his more up-tempo skills as a point guard, and he informed Wright on Tuesday that he would be transferring.
Quinerly, a five-star player and top-25 recruit at Hudson Catholic High School, will enter the NCAA transfer portal this week.
“I knew it would be a transition for him,” Wright said Wednesday. “I didn’t think it would be this difficult of a transition, but it is, and I agree with him. I know he can do it, and he knows he can do it.
“It’s just that, these kids, they get one chance at this; they get one career. So he felt, and I agree with him, that if he found somewhere where it just fit him and he didn’t have to go in and adjust so much, it would be better for him.”
Quinerly, of Hackensack, N.J., played in just 25 of the Wildcats’ 36 games, averaging 3.2 points and 9.1 minutes. He saw just one minute of action in the team’s final eight games and did not get off the bench in five postseason games: three in the Big East Tournament, two in the NCAAs.
Quinerly did not return a call seeking comment.
A transfer was thought to be in Quinerly’s future in December, when he went on Instagram to express his dissatisfaction with his playing time after getting five seconds on the court in 'Nova’s loss to Penn. He quickly took down the post and apologized, and he said in a January interview that he was not thinking of a transfer.
Wright, who said there had been a series of talks with Quinerly and his parents since the Wildcats’ season ended on March 23, said the freshman was well-liked by teammates and coaches because he tried all year to learn the system and never gave up.
“We have our guards — and he did it for us — who played multiple positions,” Wright said. “They play on the ball. They play off the ball. They guard different positions. That’s what he was learning. That was new for him. But in the end, he felt like going somewhere where he is the primary ball handler, he’s the point guard, that’s best for him.
“I agree with him. He saw that his style fitting into our system was a challenge for him, but he never backed off. He tried all year, and he was getting there. We all really admired that. That’s why his teammates like him so much. He didn’t fight it. He really worked at it.”
Quinerly’s best game came Dec. 22 against Connecticut at Madison Square Garden. He posted season-highs of 10 points and four assists in the 81-58 victory. He played in the team’s first 15 Big East games, including a 20-minute stint in the Feb. 24 loss at Xavier, posting five points, three rebounds, and one assist.
That was his last significant action of the season, however, coinciding with Wright’s decision to cut down his rotation.
Quinerly’s departure leaves the Wildcats with one point guard, Collin Gillespie, who will be a junior next season. Villanova has a top-five recruiting class coming in that includes two guards, both of whom played off the ball in high school.
With two scholarships open, including that of graduate transfer Tim Delaney, Wright said he will look at some high school seniors “to see where they are in their [recruiting] process.” As for graduate transfers, the coach said he is “probably open to anything right now.”
“We’re going to see who’s available to see if there’s a good fit for our program,” he said. “If there’s not, we might just stand pat.”