Julia Quinn. Golden Bear Fearce. A story from the June edition of the LCS Magazine.
THOMASTON – There is an old saying that champions are made in practice. Julia Quinn might add that so are college opportunities.
It was early April and Thomaston High’s 5-foot-3 All-State guard hadn’t quite figured out where to take her considerable talents that include one mesmerizing, sweet long-range jump shot that zones in on the bottom of the
There was interest on a Division III level, good places where she could make an immediate impact. Western Connecticut, Western New England and Emmuel College in Boston would have loved to have her game. Division II Post University in Waterbury was in the mix. Then there was Choate Prep for a year to season the game.
But Quinn wanted more and her career suggests she never settles for less. She has always believed in her game, this was about getting the chance. During her career, she was often in the right spot at the right time. She needed that spot and time one more time.
She found it and this winter will be slicing and dicing and draining bombs for Division II Southern New Hampshire University.
Golden Bears coach Bob McMahon and the Jewish Community Center High School All-Star game in April in Bridgeport provided the spot and the time and Quinn took care of the rest.
Quinn was not originally selected for the prestigious game. This is the best of the best with the year’s game featuring the likes of Canton’s Emily Briggs (Tufts), Hand’s Gabby Martin (Williams), New London’s Jada Lucas (Hartford), St. Luke’s Sydney Lowery (Boston College) and Capital Prep’s Angelique Rodriguez (Pittsburgh).
It is extremely difficult to get two players from the same team selected for the game. Thomaston’s All-State Division I center Casey Carangelo, who will attend Division I St. Francis in New York, had already been selected.
“One of the directors of the tournament admitted to me that he probably made a mistake in not selecting Julia,” said Thomaston High coach Bob McMahon, who was the co-coach of the East squad.
McMahon decided to take Quinn to one of the practices with hopes of making something happen and getting Quinn into the game. Quinn then took care of the rest. She eventually played in the game when a player dropped out, but it was the practice that forged her future.
“Julia lit it up at practice, she was as good as anybody on the floor,” said McMahon.
Quinn not only impressed the other players, but there were important eyes at the practice that weren’t on the floor.
Scotty Nails, who is heavily involved in the Connecticut AAU program, was impressed with Quinn’s effort.
“He came up to me after practice and asked me if that was my player,” said McMahon. “And he wanted to know where she was going. When I told him that she was leaning heavily towards attending prep school he said to me, ‘I wouldn’t want to play against her. If you told me I was going down the street and would be in a fight, I would take her.’”
Nails then asked McMahon if he could make a few calls on Quinn’s behalf.
The call went out to Southern New Hampshire. Quinn got a boost from fellow All-Star and All-Stater Gyanna Russel of East Hampton, who will also attend the school.
“The coaches spoke with Gyanna and she told the coach I was a beast,” said Quinn.
Quinn went up and worked out with the team and more than held her own. The movement up to the college level didn’t deter her a bit.
“I did well, my shot was a little off, but I got the shots I wanted,” said Quinn. “Once I got in the flow I was fine. I fit right in.”
The Southern New Hampshire coaches liked what they saw and while not on scholarship this year, a healthy financial package was in the offing.
“If I play to my potential that will come my sophomore year,” said Quinn. “The coach told me there was only one recruit she never gave money to and that was because she left.”
Quinn’s game was on complete display in this year’s Class S state tournament and those who witnessed the performance understand the Division II interest.
In a quarterfinal victory of highly touted East Windsor, Quinn fired in 27 points, drawing oohs and aahs with her patented long-range jump shots and ability to get the basket. In the semifinals, she torched Sacred Heart with a 24-point effort.
In the Class S championship game loss to Canton, Quinn carried the Thomaston load with a 23-point, six-rebound performance. There were gems against BL co-champion Housatonic during the regular season including an 18-point, 11-rebound eye-turner.
Canton coach Brian Medeiros has seen Quinn often and more than enough. To go with this year’s performance, Quinn had 17 points in Canton’s 2016 victory over the Bears in the Class S final, and as a sophomore, Quinn knocked down two gargantuan three-pointers in the final three minutes in Thomaston’s title game win over the Warriors.
Medeiros knows what Southern New Hampshire is getting.
“Julia has such a high motor, there is no quit in her,” said Medeiros. “She’s not going to lose. Give her credit. Sometimes she takes shots you don’t think she should take and they go in. She has the ability to take over a game. That is a natural instinct and a special quality.”
Quinn is deceptive considering her size. She is an excellent jumper and has zero to 60 speed in quality time. She can move. Her ball-handling and speed help her get to the basket. But it is the jump shot that catches you.
It is a weapon of beauty, somewhat unique to the high school game. It is a legitimate jump shot and Quinn can shoot it off the dribble. The range is rather astounding. Ask East Windsor, Sacred Heart and Canton, all victimized by long range beauty well beyond the arc - twenty-five-foot range without exaggeration.
“It is a weapon,” said McMahon. “You should have seen here at the JCC practice. She was sticking jumpers and dropping dimes. You have to guard her 25 feet and in.”
There is also a street toughness to Quinn.
“She’ll make such a difference, she’ll deflect the ball, she always near you, lurking,” said McMahon. “There is a lot Gabby Hurlbert to her. Tough and always around.”
Those who follow Thomaston basketball know there has hardly been a tougher player than Hurlbert, who is currently playing at Western Connecticut.
For those who saw Quinn play there is nothing new here. She has been a major force in Thomaston’s magnificent run in recent years, winning all eight of the BL titles she played for and playing in four state title games with two wins.
All Julia Quinn needed was a chance to show her stuff. She got that and in typical fashion took care of the rest. Southern New Hampshire has itself a player, a darned good one.