TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After almost every home game last season, University of Alabama sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly was normally the final one to leave Coleman Coliseum.
The Hackensack N.J. native would either be putting up shots, running stadiums, or maybe even both, for an hour or so after games, waiting.
Waiting for his opportunity, his moment, after the NCAA denied his wavier to play in the 2019-2020 campaign because of a FBI probe stemming back to when he was recruited out of high school by Arizona.
He never made it to Tucson, eventually ending up at Villanova, which is much closer to his home in New Jersey, then making the decision to transfer to the Capstone in the summer of 2019.
That year took a toll on him but the former five-star point guard is ready to take what he learned from the sidelines and put it all into action on Nov. 25 when the Crimson Tide hosts Jacksonville State in its season-opener.
"To be honest, in the beginning, it was tough for me,” Quinerly told the media last week. “Just the reality of not being able to play, not being able to play with my teammates, it was tough. Obviously, for anyone that would have to sit out a year, it would be tough. But I feel like once the season really started and I’m still practicing with guys, still going head to head with Kira Lewis every day in practice, it kind of gave me a different perspective. Maybe this happened for a reason. I just took advantage of it.
“Being able to play every day against really good, high-level players and being able to watch great SEC games all played a huge role in who I am today and how far I’ve come. I just took it as a positive. That was probably the biggest thing for me, turning a negative into a positive.”
During his time with the Wildcats during the 2018-2019 season, the former McDonald's All-American averaged 3.2 points and 9.1 minutes in very limited action across 25 games that year.
And while his first season of college basketball didn't go the way he had planned, Quinerly says his love for the game was re-discovered when he made the move to Tuscaloosa.
“For me, I wasn’t having fun anymore while I was there,” Quinerly said. “I play basketball because I love playing the game, and I lost that love for the game while I was there and that’s why I decided to transfer. Obviously the fit, I felt like I just didn’t fit their system, and I wanted to play in a faster-paced system that Oats and Coach B [Bryan Hodgson] have presented to me."
While Alabama will certainly get a boost from Quinerly's presence on the court, he says having his brother, Jaden, a walk-on freshman guard, on the team will make a world of difference for him this season.
"It's amazing," Quinerly said. "Being 13-14 hours away from New Jersey, it's tough. So having him, us working to get better every day together, it's amazing. I needed that little piece of home with me out here. It's tough being away from family and I'm a family man. It's great having him here."
As the presumed starter at the point guard position, Quinerly is looking to carry the torch of recent Alabama greats at the position like the Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton, and projected lottery pick next week's NBA draft, Kira Lewis Jr.
“Whatever coach wants me to do,” Quinerly said. “If he wants me to go out there and be the scrappiest guard, if he wants me to go out there and keep the team organized, keep everybody intact, whatever the coaches want me to do, that’s what I’m willing to do. I know there’s a rich history of point guards in this program and there’s a lot of good guards that came before me.
“I’m really just trying to continue that tradition but doing it by doing what my coaches want me to do and just taking pride in the little things and just doing my job as a point guard.”
In regards to Quinerly's play, just think back to what Alabama coach Nate Oats said last season about how he was performing everyday in workouts.
"Shoot, there’s days in which he’s the best player in practice,” Oats said. “Even when he’s not the best player in practice he’s right up there every day. He gives you a great look. He’s tough to stop."
That's high praise for a squad that still had Lewis on its roster, alongside All-SEC Defensive Team member, Herb Jones, and All-SEC Second Team honoree, John Petty Jr.
It's been over 600 days since he played a meaningful second of a college basketball game, but when his time comes against the Gamecocks, Quinerly will be ready to showcase his enormous potential, hoping to embark on a magical season for the Crimson Tide.
“Words can’t really explain,” Quinerly said. “Most of you know I haven’t played in a pretty long time. I’m just very excited for these weeks leading into the season and finally being able to put an Alabama jersey on and play for this school, play for my coaches and basically show all the work that I’ve put in these last two years.
"Hopefully, the fans will receive me well. I just want to put on a show for the fans, my coaches, my teammates and show that this work is going to pay off. For my family to be able to see my and my brother on the same bench, in the same program, that's amazing to me and I'm looking forward to it."