When you have a team full of talented freshmen such as Alabama, you can prove to be one of the best teams in the country. A flip changes in the postseason though and experience is going to be needed in the NCAA Tournament — especially at a guard position. For Nate Oats, Jahvon Quinerely has been the guy down the stretch.
If Alabama is going to be the one cutting down the net in Houston, multiple players are going to have to be playing their best basketball. Oats believes Quinerly is and sees a common theme over the past three years. Whenever the calendar turns to March, Quinerly magically turns into the superstar he can be.
“He finds a way to come around and play really well at the end of the year every year,” Oats said. “He was SEC Tournament MVP two years ago. I thought he was playing his best basketball last year. Tore his ACL. I would like to think that game would have gone a different way if we had had him for the full 40 minutes in the tournament.
“He’s playing his best basketball by far right now. He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. He wants to take this team as far as we could go.”
Since the beginning of the SEC Tournament, Quinerly has been in double figures all but once. A near-season high of 22 points came against Texas A&M in the championship game and then again on Saturday vs. Maryland.
San Diego State is next up in the Sweet Sixteen for Alabama, before potentially facing Creighton/Princeton in the Elite Eight. Oats has a talented and deep roster at his disposal but if anyone is going to make everything mesh together this late in the tournament, Quinerly will be his guy.
Jahvon Quinerly turning into leader for Alabama
When Quinerly arrived in Tuscaloosa, there were problems at his previous stop. He entered as an On3 Industry Ranking five-star prospect for Villanova, only to leave after just his freshman season. Oats took the point guard under his wing and helped him grow on and off the court.
Those in Philadelphia have noticed as well. Former head coach Jay Wright recently caught up with Quinerly when broadcasting a regular season game, mentioning how the leadership is evident. Oats gets the opportunity to see it on a daily basis in the locker room.
“He’s trying to lead these guys,” Oats said. He’s grown up a lot since he got here. You know, it was ironic when we played at A&M, Jay Wright had our game. Me and Jay were talking, you know, Jahvon came over and gave Jay a hug. Jay said, ‘Man, he has grown up a lot as a leader since I had him.’
“He’s grown up a lot since we first had him. He’s made big strides. He understands what’s important. He speaks up when he needs to speak up. He’s taken ownership of this team. Like, it’s his team. It’s a lot of guy’s team, we got leadership from a lot of guys. He’s definitely one of them.”
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