MORGANTOWN — There were raw emotions back in those days of last March, a feeling of loss that J.J. Quinerly could not simply bottle up and store away on some shelf.
Her first shot to play in the women’s NCAA tournament had just ended in a first-round loss against Arizona.
Hours later, her head coach — Dawn Plitzuweit — was leaving to become the head coach at Minnesota.
“I’m not going to say too much about all of that,” the all-Big 12 guard said Wednesday during a media session, a sign that she’s moved on.
Still, her sophomore season was impressive. Quinerly led the team in scoring and steals and she had established herself as one of the best young players in the Big 12.
It would have been easy to enter the transfer portal and move on, yet Quinerly never did.
That still didn’t stop the options from pouring in. This is a new era of NCAA athletics, after all, filled with Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) money at the ready for promising talent.
“Yeah, I had a lot of people texting me and direct messaging me,” Quinerly said. “Some people were even calling my dad.”
Enter new WVU head coach Mark Kellogg, who took over a Mountaineer roster that could potentially return four starters from a 19-win team in 2022-23, as well as a rising star in Quinerly.
“There was never a discussion about her leaving, at least with me,” Kellogg said. “Of course, I was re-recruiting her, but that was all of them. I wanted to keep that core group together. To me, that was win No. 1 in keeping together those six.”
Quinerly admits she made the decision rather early in the process to remain at WVU.
“It’s a good place to be,” Quinerly said. “I like the people here. I really don’t like change.
“Me staying here, it was about being involved with everyone else who was staying; Messiah (Hunter), Jayla (Hemingway), Kyah (Watson) and everyone else.”
Kellogg did keep that core group together, as well as signing a past all-Big 12 player in guard Lauren Fields for her final season of eligibility.
He also brought with him from Stephen F. Austin his own potential star in guard Jordan Harrison.
“He brought in a lot of good players,” Quinerly said. “That was one of the main reasons I stayed. He’s a good coach with a good mind set of what he wants to accomplish. I stayed with him, which was a good thing.”
A good thing overall, too. WVU did lose three players to the portal following Plitzuweit’s departure, none who had starting experience or played more than 10 minutes per game.
“It was nothing that we really talked about,” Quinerly said. “Everybody was on their own in making that decision. I would hope everybody made the best decisions for themselves.”
It’s a new season now, one in which Quinerly has already earned preseason all-Big 12 honors. Now, it’s up to her to back that up.
“I think she’s all in,” Kellogg said. “She loves being here. She loves West Virginia and Morgantown.
“She has some legit goals to go down as one of the greatest players in school history to play here. I think that’s really important for her to achieve those things.”