In the absence of senior leaders Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, Villanova will have an even younger team next season. Questions abound as to how much the current sophomore and freshman classes will step up and how much of an impression the highly ranked class of incoming freshmen will make.
Perhaps the biggest question in the short term, however, is whether point guard Jahvon Quinerly will be a part of the Wildcats next season.
Speculation is that Quinerly, a five-star recruit from Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City, will transfer after playing in only 25 of the Cats’ 36 games this season. He saw one minute on the floor in the team’s last eight games – a mop-up appearance on March 2 against Butler – and did not get off the bench in the postseason.
Villanova coach Jay Wright said Monday that he will meet with Quinerly and his parents “in the next week or so” to discuss the player’s future.
“He and I talk all the time,” Wright said. “If he believes this is best for him, we’d love to have him. He knows what this is. He’s been here for a year and he’s a smart kid. So we respect his decision on what he believes is best for him.
“In the offseason, that’s what we try to do for every player. You meet. You want guys to be here because they believe this is the best for them. You don’t want guys who feel like they’re stuck here.”
Quinerly had a breakout performance in Villanova’s Dec. 22 game against Connecticut at Madison Square Garden, an 81-58 victory, with season highs of 10 points, four assists, and 25 minutes. He played in the team’s first 15 Big East contests, including a 20-minute stint in a Feb. 24 loss at Xavier where he had five points, three rebounds and one assist.
However, that was his last significant action of the season, coinciding with Wright’s decision to cut down his rotation, most times going with seven players. Among the freshmen, Quinerly and Brandon Slater sat and Cole Swider, who missed 12 games with a broken left wrist, came off the bench in all three Big East Tournament games.
“That’s when we had to shorten up our lineup at that point and we couldn’t just keep going with the freshmen to bring them along," Wright said. "We had to go with the older guys and see how far they could take us. That was tough for him. He was put in a really difficult situation and I think he handled it well.
"He made great improvement in practice, but no one’s going to see that. It doesn’t matter until you get into the games. So it was a very difficult year for him and we respect and admire how he handled it. He remained a really good teammate.”
Quinerly, who decommitted from Arizona after its assistant coach who recruited him was arrested in the FBI’s investigation of college basketball, attracted attention in December when he sent out an Instagram post after playing only 5 seconds on Dec. 11 against Penn. The post read: “Was my 2nd choice for a reason,” reflecting his frustration at not playing.
He quickly took down the post and apologized, and said in a January interview he was not thinking of a transfer.
“I was never the type to quit on something,” he said, “so I just knew that this was the situation I’m in, this is the school I chose, the school that me and my family knew was comfortable for me, so I’ve just got to keep fighting through this.”
Saddiq Bey, a 6-8 forward, enjoyed the most success among Villanova’s four freshmen, playing in all 36 games with 29 starts – the last 20 in succession. He averaged 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds and became an effective three-point shooter and offensive rebounder.