TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama men’s basketball sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly has multiple reasons to celebrate on Wednesday.
After inexplicably not being granted eligibility last season following his transfer from Villanova to the Crimson Tide, Quinerly was forced to sit on the side of the hardwood and watch as his teammates played on the court. Unable to contribute, last season was definitely tough on the young athlete.
Wednesday, however, marks the start of a new era for Quinerly.
In addition to Alabama basketball tipping off its 2020-2021 season against Jacksonville State (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network), Wednesday also marks Quinerly’s return to the court — his first action on the hardwood since February of 2019.
To make things perfect, it’s also his 22nd birthday.
In a virtual press conference via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon, Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats spoke about how Quinerly’s parents are in town to celebrate Quinerly’s birthday, Thanksgiving and on top of all that, the return of their son to playing the game he loves.
“It’s also his birthday tomorrow so his parents are in town,” Oats said. “I talked to them after practice. They’re kinda down for his first game slash birthday slash Thanksgiving so it’ll be emotional for him. He’s been playing great in practice I mean he’s been shooting the ball really well. I think he’s ready to go. He’s been guarding — his defense has been markedly improved. I think he’s ready — he’s been more than ready. It’s been a long time coming for him. He’s a really good player obviously and he does all of practice, he’s super skilled, he’s been skilled — he does all of that to get to these games. Now it’s about winning.
“I think his teammates have embraced him and hopefully we can give him a big birthday present with a big win and a nice game for him tomorrow.”
While Quinerly himself was not available to speak on his upcoming birthday celebration, guards senior John Petty Jr. and sophomore Jaden Shackelford were more than willing to talk about their teammate.
When asked what Quinerly can contribute to this year’s team, Shackelford did not mince words regarding the impact fans should expect him to make on the team.
“They’re gonna see a high-IQ point guard that can do everything on the floor,” Shackelford said. “He makes his teammates better, he can make shots himself — I mean he’s just an all-around great player. He’s a great teammate. We’re pretty close off the court. He’s going to make our team way better this year.”
It’s been a long, difficult road for Quinerly. However, there is no doubt that all of the issues of the past and adversity that he has had to overcome for almost two years will disappear once the Crimson Tide takes to the court on Wednesday night.
Petty, who has played with two NBA guards on his roster in Collin Sexton and Kira Lewis Jr., said that Quinerly is more of a true point guard.
“Playing with Collin and playing with Kira, Kira and Collin were similar and alike but I feel like he’s different,” Petty said. “He’s more of a true point guard. I feel like he can facilitate the ball real well, he can do everything — which all of them can do — but just seeing the way he plays, the pace he plays at and the things he can do when he’s finishing at the rim — his shot.
“It’s amazing to watch and I’m ready to get out there with him.”
Between Thanksgiving, his birthday, his parents coming to town and finally his return to basketball, Quinerly indeed has a lot to celebrate on Wednesday night in Coleman Coliseum.