Alabama Basketball: Jahvon Quinerly to return ahead of schedule?


Last season, Alabama basketball lost point guard Jahvon Quinerly to a torn ACL in the opening minutes of the Crimson Tide’s first round NCAA tournament loss to Notre Dame. It was a devastating blow for an already-reeling team, which would eventually sputter to a disappointing and season-ending 14-point loss.

Jahvon Quinerly subsequently announced that he would be returning to Tuscaloosa for another season, with the understanding that he would not be ready in time for the start of the 2022 campaign.

The most recent reports indicate that he will return to the lineup earlier than what was previously expected. Quinerly has returned to practice in a limited capacity, and it is anticipated that he will be able to return to game action by early December. This would be valuable both for Quinerly and Alabama, as it would give the point guard four to five non-conference games to re-acclimate himself before conference play.

Coach Nate Oats could ease Jahvon Quinerly into the lineup while some combination of transfer Mark Sears and freshman Jaden Bradley hold down the point guard spot. Every minute of experience these two get without Quinerly in the lineup should only benefit them individually and as a team.

When Quinerly is able to return full-time, his unique ability should elevate the team beyond whatever it has become at that point in time. Amongst returning players, Quinerly was fourth in the SEC in both scoring and assists last season. His talent alone makes him a difference-maker, but the attention he draws makes the players around him better as well. At their ceiling, Jahvon Quinerly and freshman wing Brandon Miller could form one of the most potent duos in the nation, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

Alabama basketball will have to learn to play without Quinerly for about a month. It will miss him in the Phil Knight Invitational, an in-season tournament that will take place in the final week of November. The eight-team tournament features four preseason top-25 teams, including Alabama. The field also includes college basketball blue bloods UCONN and Michigan State. Alabama opens the tournament playing Michigan State on Thanksgiving Day.

The team likely still won’t have Quinerly at one hundred percent for one of the toughest non-conference stretches in the country. In a two-week period, Alabama basketball will play two of the top three teams in the country in Houston and Gonzaga. If the Tide happens to play North Carolina in the PKI final, it will face the entire preseason top three in a three-week span. It will also play Memphis and South Dakota State in that stretch.

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Bama could really benefit from Quinerly stepping in and making a difference in this tough run of games. However, it is most important to have him fully healthy and confident for SEC play, so expect him to be slowly re-introduced to game action.