When Jahvon Quinerly gave a verbal commitment last August to the University of Arizona in Tuscon, it didn’t take long for the vultures to start to come out.
Just a week after giving his word to Arizona, it was reported by several media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, that the Hudson Catholic McDonald’s All-American and two-time Hudson Reporter Player of the Year as well as the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year allegedly accepted illegal funding to attend Arizona. It was reported that Quinerly received $20,000 from former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson.
“It was really tough on me and my family,” Quinerly said Tuesday, the first time he has publicly addressed the accusations. “At the end of the day, I knew that everything happens for a reason. I learned to play with those things hanging over my head. I just had to move on.”
Quinerly said that he was never really concerned that the investigation involving Richardson and the alleged illegal payments would come back to haunt him.
“I knew the truth,” Quinerly said. “I knew I did nothing wrong.”
Still, here was a reputable newspaper like the Arizona Republic actually naming Quinerly as part of the investigation.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Quinerly said. “It was very tough to have to deal with that.”
So while teammates Luther Muhammad (Ohio State) and Louis King (Oregon) signed letters of intent in November to go to their respective schools on scholarship, the best player of the bunch had to sit over on the side, away from the spotlight.
“It was very tough not being able to commit that day,” Quinerly said.
Since that day, Quinerly said that he has not been questioned by either the Federal Bureau of Investigation – who reportedly was conducting the investigation – or the NCAA, the national governing body of collegiate sports.
“It was very frustrating to be named by all these media people,” Quinerly said. “I knew I did nothing wrong. It was very tough.”
Quinerly survived and managed to make it through his final basketball season. The Hawks won their seventh straight Hudson County Tournament championship in February, but fell short of their main goal in the NJSIAA Parochial B North playoffs.
But having that investigation hanging over Quinerly’s head was extremely difficult.
“It was very tough,” Quinerly said.
Soon after the stories broke about the alleged illegal donations, Quinerly went back on his verbal commitment to Arizona and decided to re-open the recruiting process.
Last Wednesday, Quinerly finally signed his national letter of intent for college. He’s headed to Villanova University, yes the same Villanova that just won the NCAA National Championship in San Antonio last week.
“It’s very exciting for me and my family,” Quinerly said. “I’m up for the challenge.”
Quinerly’s scholarship acceptance at the school Wednesday comes exactly one week after the Wildcats won the national title for the second time in the last three years. However, the Wildcats lost two key players in National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson and forward Mikal Bridges. Both players declared their intentions to apply for the NBA Draft this summer.
“I think it’s only natural that I will come in with high expectations,” Quinerly said. “I know I’m going to have to come in and elevate my game.”
Quinerly said that he knew all along that the Wildcats would win the national title.
“All of my brackets had Villanova winning it all,” Quinerly said. “So I kind of knew they were going to win. It’s definitely a great feeling to be able to play in that system. It was very exciting to watch it all with my family.”
Quinerly said that he hopes to earn a degree from Villanova, but if the NBA comes calling – as is expected after his freshman season – then Quinerly will have to listen.
“I think I have the best of both worlds,” said Quinerly, who is also an excellent student and considered Villanova among his initial finalists. “I’ve definitely grown a lot since freshman year. I took everything that’s important and brought it to real life. I’m ready to start the next level of my basketball career, to be able to compete at such a high level for the defending national champions.”
Hudson Catholic head coach and athletic director Nick Mariniello was proud of the way his player handled himself.
“I think it’s all a lesson on media training,” Mariniello said. “The media did not get the right information out. I give the kid a lot of credit for the way he handled everything. He never said a thing. He did what he had to do. The long journey is over and it has Jahvon going to the right place. I think it all worked out for the best. Going through this experience, he has a good support group behind him. I think he needed to experience what he went through. He comes from a wonderful family.”
Fellow Hawk Shackylle Dezonie announced his intentions to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut on an academic scholarship. Dezonie transferred to Hudson Catholic from a school in Pennsylvania two years ago and quickly found himself in the mix with the rest of the talented players.
“It feels good to be able to share this with Jahvon,” Dezonie said. “I’ve known him since we played for Sports U in sixth grade. We always talked about [making the announcement together] since we were younger. I think I have a chance to do something great.”
Dezonie maintained a 4.0 grade point average and scored 1240 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
“I might want to go to law school,” Dezonie said. “I’m considering law or business. This sets me up for the rest of my life. I made a lot of sacrifices coming to this school.”
Karen Ramiu of the Hudson Catholic volleyball team signed a national letter of intent to accept a scholarship to play volleyball at St. Peter’s University.
But the day belonged to Quinerly.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Quinerly said. “Everything worked out for the better.”…
St. Peter’s University didn’t wait long to find a replacement for former head basketball coach John Dunne. The school was set to announce Thursday that former St. Patrick of Elizabeth McDonald’s All-American Shaheen Holloway was chosen after a search conducted by new athletic director Bryan Felt.
Holloway and Felt were familiar with each other from their days at Seton Hall, where Holloway played and served as an assistant coach for the last 12 years. We’ll have more on the hiring of Holloway in next week’s editions…
Because most teams played sparingly during the winter storms, there was not an Athlete of the Week chosen this week. We will have one in next week’s editions….
Hudson Reporter High School Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (3-1). 2. Memorial (4-2). 3. Ferris (2-1-1). 4. North Bergen (4-1). 5. Union City (1-1)…
Hudson Reporter High School Softball Top Five: 1. Ferris (2-0). 2. North Bergen (3-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (3-1). 4. St. Dominic Academy (2-1). 5. Hoboken (1-1)…–Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.