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Where to, JQ? — Jelly Fam’s Latest Transfer

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“Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Quinerly’s decision to transfer—and the saga that came before it—follows the footsteps of many other Jelly Fam members.

NCAA Basketball: Canisius at Villanova Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After Wednesday morning, there was no more speculation and over-analyzing. The Quinerly Question was finally answered and the saga came to a close.

Like all freshmen that don’t seem to make the transition look seamless, Quinerly was a polarizing player that had Villanova Wildcats fans divided into supporters and those who anticipated to see him transfer. Social media detectives looked for every hint and dove into every post and change of the profile picture hoping to find clues--or speak them into existence. Jermaine Samuels had his share of pundits believing he would transfer last season, especially early into his freshman year, but that was nowhere near the analysis and scrutiny that Quinerly faced.

Samuels stayed and emerged into Big Game Jermaine as a sophomore, breaking free and earning every ounce of confidence with a career-performance in a much-needed win over the Marquette Golden Eagles at home. He followed up with timely baskets and clutch plays in postseason play. Worries of jitters and nerves became a thing of the past. As for Quinerly, his bounce-back story will take place elsewhere.

It was announced that he will be putting his name into the transfer portal later this week. There is no set destination just yet. He played in 25 games for the Wildcats this past season, averaging 9.1 minutes per appearance and 3.2 points. He shot 33.7 percent on the floor and an even worse 25.0 percent from long range. This season he totaled 22 assists to 19 turnovers.

While a turbulent season for Quinerly on the court--and rumors and stories detailing a rough one off of it--believers in Quinerly were excited for what he could possibly do his sophomore year, when he would finally be “free.” With Collin Gillespie as the only other point guard with experience on the roster, and incoming freshmen Bryan Antoine and Justin Moore are unproven at running the point, on paper--it looked like Quinerly would see a huge uptick in minutes and an opportunity to prove himself as a sophomore.

We’ll never get to know, as he’ll be the latest member of Jelly Fam to transfer. Through the ongoing speculation in regards to Quinerly’s future, the answer was already written on the wall--right in front of us--even before that Instagram story post that would live in infamy and tarnish Quinerly’s image in some Villanova fans’ eyes. Perhaps all this drama could have been fully anticipated by looking at the red flags from the rest of #JellyFam.

As the old adage goes, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Jelly Fam, a group of New York and New Jersey-based hoopers known for their flashy layups, took social media and playgrounds by storm. It became a basketball phenomenon that has resulted in millions of video hits and thousands of followers online. They’ll tell you it’s a movement.

As these players have grown up from parks and high school gymnasiums and moved on to college, the only movement has been to other schools. Jelly Fam has become “Transfer Fam.”

With exception to “Big Jelly,” LSU forward Naz Reid--who excelled from the get-go on a Tiger team that made it to the Sweet 16--and the “First Lady of Jelly Fam,” Ole Miss’ full-time starting freshman guard Mimi Reid, the rest of the core members of Jelly Fam have had their share of struggles, conflicts, and transfers. Quinerly is only the latest of the bunch hit by the itch to transfer.

Isaiah Washington, New York State’s Mr. Basketball from Bronx-based St. Raymond’s, never seemed to get it going at Minnesota. The Jelly Fam co-founder saw his minutes drop in his sophomore year and his production cut in half. This past season, he averaged just 4.3 points on 31.1 percent shooting, through 28 games. He announced on Monday that he will be leaving, a move that seemed to also be brought on by family illnesses as well.

The CEO of Jelly Fam, Ja’Quaye James--Teaneck’s (N.J.) all-time leading scorer--had a few Division I offers and at one point was arrested for hitting juveniles. He’s since enrolled at Navarro College, a junior college in Texas, where he started in 19 of 27 games this past season, averaging 11.5 points per game.

Leondre Washington spent three years at Teaneck and one year at Roselle Catholic (N.J.), and averaged over 21 points per game as a high school senior. Known for his explosive quickness and scoring abilities, he eventually committed to Robert Morris where he went for a year before transferring out to Barton Community College (Kan.) after the 2017-18 season. In his lone season at Robert Morris, he averaged 8.0 points and received 22.8 minutes per game. He and head coach Andy Toole had a dispute towards the end of the season in regards to his playing time, which resulted in a disciplinary benching for the final four games of the year. Last week, it was announced he will be returning to the Division I scene as a transfer to McNeese State.

Within the Big East, former Seton Hall player Jordan Walker had issues with his playing time that he actually quit the team mid-season during his freshman year in the 2017-18 campaign. After being out for two games, he reconciled with Kevin Willard and rejoined the team, but things weren’t the same. He transferred to Tulane after that season, where he averaged just 7.2 minutes and 1.8 points through 17 appearances as a Pirate.

Meanwhile, Bronx-native Sidney Wilson was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and was slated to play at St. John’s. He ultimately transferred before suiting up for the Red Storm and landed at UConn. This season was his first taste of college hoops. He appeared in 26 games for the Huskies, averaging 4.6 points.

In relation to the rest of them, Naz and Mimi Reid have made it look easy in their freshman seasons. Meanwhile, the others have had their ups and downs. The act of transferring has varying opinions on how it is perceived, so I’ll leave that judgment up to you.

Perhaps the Jelly Fam transfer epidemic begs an even bigger conversation about expectations, social media hype, and compartmentalizing achievements. What they did at the high school and streetball stage is undeniable, it was certainly a movement and they attained success at that level. It’s also clear that for the most part, that movement hasn’t carried over to the collegiate level--yet. They are still young and have years to go, but that doesn’t take away their high school legacy--and they still have time to change the one’s they’ll leave in college and make their mark.

So far, it hasn’t been too good. For Quinerly, it was even tougher. Not only did he have the expectations that came with half-a-million followers on Instagram, he bore the task of living up to the No. 1, a jersey worn by past point guard greats like Kyle Lowry, Scottie Reynolds, and Jalen Brunson--combine that with his recruiting saga and a controversial post-Penn game Instagram post, and the ice beneath his feet was thinning.

Call me a JQ apologist. I’ve been on the bandwagon for a few years since I saw him effortlessly throw up lobs to Naz Reid, dishing out no-look passes to the open man on the weak side, cashing in three-pointers and finishing through traffic. My half-awake self after a late night in New York City feeling energized by his play, thinking ‘who is this guy?’ He dazzled on the Under Armour AAU Circuit at the Basketball City complex on the southern tip of Manhattan. A quick Google search that day revealed his 247 Sports page and that the Crystal Balls tipped in ‘Nova’s favor, but no crystal ball could have predicted the saga that would follow. I still think he can succeed, and it’s unfortunate it’ll have to be somewhere else.

All throughout the season fans debated his next move, and the public perception seemed to sway with the highs and lows. Transfer rumors were at an all-time high after the Instagram post, but were squished a few weeks later after a solid performance against UConn and some thought it was the moment he was finally “freed"--that it would be the turning point.

In some ways it was actually the ultimatum. For the rest of the season, he never got the amount of minutes that he did against the Huskies. Questions re-emerged, debates about the way he was being handled ran their course, but through the noise, doubt, and questions—maybe the drama was foreseen and the answer for his next move was always there if the situation wasn’t right, and it was there well before the Penn game.