By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
A little more than a year ago, Noel Colon heard through the grapevine that he was getting an excellent basketball player by the name of Quincy Rutherford.
So the Harrison High School boys’ basketball coach was excited. He was taking over the Blue Tide program and was getting a newcomer with all the talent in the world.
There was only one problem. The new found would-be star was gone before he could take a jump shot for the Blue Tide. “He grew up in Harrison, but then left before the season began,” Colon said of Rutherford. Instead on enrolling at Harrison High, Rutherford and his sister, Marla, were attending Passaic County Tech.
“My mother wanted us to stay close to her,” Rutherford said. “It didn’t matter to me, as long as I was playing basketball.”
However, Rutherford’s fate changed when his parents decided that the best thing would be to move back to Harrison so he could attend school there.
“Midway through his freshman year, he came back,” Colon said. “There was like a week left in the basketball season, so he didn’t play with us. But he played in the gym and the kids would talk about him a lot.”
Last summer, when the Blue Tide played in a summer league in Kearny, Colon got to see Rutherford’s talents on a regular basis.
“My assistant coach Dana John (the former New Jersey City University standout) called me and said, ‘Coach, we have ourselves a player. The kid can play.’ I then saw him and could see that he could shoot the ball, put the ball on the floor, drive. He was skilled. We knew we had something to work with.”
Rutherford, who admittedly loves the sport of basketball, was readied for his sophomore year at Harrison by drilling with his father, Marlon.
“My dad knows a lot about the game,” Rutherford said. “He helped me a lot. We worked on my ball handling and explosiveness.”
Needless to say, the 6-foot-3 Rutherford was definitely prepared to make a big splash with the Blue Tide.
“I was excited to have him,” Colon said. “You can do all the coaching in the world, but at the end of the day, you need talent. There are not many kids like Quincy walking around in Harrison. I can play him anywhere on the floor. He walks into the gym and with his size, you assume he’s the center. The opponents have no idea that he can put the ball on the floor and is able to go by people.
He also makes plays for other people.” Rutherford had a solid debut against Queen of Peace, but then turned his ankle. Everyone thought that the future superstar was finished before he actually began.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Rutherford said. “I knew I could come back. I was a little shaky, but I was okay. I was able to play right away.”
And play he did. Rutherford went on to register in double figures in 23 of the Blue Tide’s 25 games, including an amazing streak of 18 consecutive games.
“I didn’t even know that,” Rutherford said. “I wasn’t worried about scoring. I knew that I just wanted to help the team out however I could and help the team win. It just happened that way. I didn’t know it was happening.”
Rutherford ended up scoring a total of 374 points, a great total for a sophomore. He averaged 15.4 points per game, seven rebounds and four assists.
Over the last week of the season, Rutherford scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a win over Dwight- Englewood, had 19 points and nine rebounds in a win over Ridgefield and tallied 20 points in a loss to North Bergen in the Hudson County Tournament quarterfinals.
For his efforts, Rutherford has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Colon said that Rutherford continued to improve during the course of the season as he led the Blue Tide to an impressive 17-8 record.
“We know that he’s going to play at the next level, be it (NCAA) Division II or Division III,” Colon said. “And he’s going to have to be a guard. He brought the ball up for us a lot this year. He’s only a sophomore and has the opportunity to grow a little, but he’s a guard on the next level. He’s really a special player. He’s a very good shooter. He’s also a strong kid. I didn’t realize how strong he is, especially going to the basket.”
Colon knows that Rutherford is destined to become the next 1,000-point scorer in Harrison history.
“He’s going to get his 1,000,” Colon said. “He’s well on his way. He’s a very nice kid, very coachable. He’s very dedicated, working out with his father, so he’s definitely going to get better. He’s also usually the first one to practice and wants to take 15-to-20 minutes after practice to work on his shooting. He takes the game very seriously.”
Colon also pointed out that Rutherford was selected to First Team All-New Jersey Interscholastic Conference-Liberty Division, so he received the respect of opposing coaches.
“The one thing that stands out to me is his consistency,” Colon said. “It’s good to have the kind of consistency Quincy gave us. He would make the big shots, knock down a couple shots in a row and get us going. It’s good to have that. Because of his work ethic and how he approaches the game, I know his future is bright. I’m expecting some pretty big things from him.”
Rutherford said that he hasn’t thought about colleges just yet. After all, he’s only a sophomore.
“I don’t know about playing in college, but as the years go on, I guess I’ll start to think that way,” Rutherford said. “I know I’m going to become way better. Playing college basketball has always been a dream for me, so I’m going to continue to work hard and try to get better.”
Rutherford said that he might play AAU basketball during the summer months and, if he does, hopes that someone takes notice of his talents.
“I’m pretty happy with the way the season went,” said Rutherford, whose season ended with a loss to Newark Tech in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II tournament last week. “I wish we could have made a better statement in the states. But it was a good year.”
And with better years to come, hopefully in Harrison, for the budding superstar with the memorable name of Quincy Rutherford.