MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — JJ Quinerly is undoubtedly West Virginia’s top returning player. The junior guard was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection after averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game last season.

Quinerly will play under her third head coach in three years.

Her new head coach, Mark Kellogg, knows he has a special player to lead his offense in his first year in charge of a Power 5 program.

“I think she’s going to have a better year, even, this year than she’s had,” said Kellogg.

Quinerly scored in double figures in 24 games last season, and finished the year by scoring 10 or more points in 18 of the final 21 contests. She netted at least 20 points six times and scored a career-high 28 points in a home loss to Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve.

For the past two years, Quinerly played under the veteran leadership of fellow guard Madisen Smith.

Now, Quinerly is the established player in the locker room. She is the one Kellogg is looking to for on-court leadership.

“We’ve challenged her to lead. She’s not the most vocal kid if you know her, but she certainly plays her tail off, and she will compete,” said Kellogg. “But now we need some vocal leadership, and I think we’re still trying to identify who that is on this team. I don’t know how vocal she will be, but I think if we can get that out of her, that will be great for us.”

West Virginia hasn’t played a game yet, but Kellogg’s system appears to fit well with Quinerly’s playing style.

On offense, he envisions having two guards — Quinerly and sophomore transfer Jordan Harrison — run the attack. That is similar to what Quinerly did the past two years in tandem with Smith, which often freed Quinerly to move off the ball, and take some of the opposing defense’s attention off her.

WVU’s first-year head coach deploys a physical, full-court, pressing defense. Quinerly has averaged 67 steals per season through her first two years as a Mountaineer and finished third in the Big 12 Conference in steals each season. According to Kellogg, Quinerly has stated it’s her goal to be WVU’s all-time steals leader.

That’s not her only goal, though.

“She’s all in. She loves being here, she loves West Virginia, Morgantown, loves being on the women’s basketball team here. She really has some goals to be, you know, legit goals to go down as one of the greatest players that’s played here in this school’s history. And I think that’s really important to her to achieve those things. I think she can do those.”

Mark Kellogg, WVU women’s basketball head coach

Quinerly’s goals, mixed with Kellogg’s style, seem to have made it easy for the preseason All-Big 12 selection to stick with West Virginia in the offseason. She never entered the transfer portal, nor gave Kellogg or his staff the impression she was thinking of transferring amid the latest coaching change.

Entering her junior season, the Norfolk, Virginia, native is less than 300 points away from reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career. If she averages similar numbers to what she put up last season, she’ll hit that number near the start of February, if not sooner.

Two years of collegiate experience, combined with Kellogg’s philosophy of how to use Quinerly, could combine for an increase in offensive production.

“She’ll play as the point guard. She’ll play as the two. She’ll play as the playmaker. I’m sure, late in the game, she’s going to be a decision-maker,” said Kellogg. “It doesn’t always have to be scoring or hitting the shot, but it needs to probably be ball in hand, the ball in your best player’s hand. I think it’s our job to put her in the right position, though, and put everyone around her that accentuates her skill set and creates as much space for her as we can, because she is pretty dynamic, without question, with the ball in her hand.”