Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Instead of dribbling and driving for the Villanova Wildcats last year, JayVaughn Pinkston was lifting and hauling.
Suspended by Villanova after he was charged with two counts of simple assault and harassment following an off-campus fight, the Brooklyn native worked at a factory near Villanova for a “mailing company” instead of playing ball.
“It made me mature a whole lot,” the 6-foot-7, 260-pound redshirt freshman told SNY.tv Friday by phone from Villanova. “It made me realize that I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life so I had to work hard at basketball.”
Pinkston could not discuss the specifics of the case because it is still pending, but an anonymous eyewitness told the New York Post last November Pinkston became angry after he was locked inside a laundry room at a fraternity house during what the report labeled a “romantic encounter with a girl.”
“[The frat guy] propped a chair against the door so they couldn’t get out, but eventually he did get out,” the witness told the Post. “He [Pinkston] was [mad], but nothing became of it at the time. He was just yelling.”
Pinkston later allegedly punched a fraternity member after the man taunted him outside. The Post witness speculated the other man may have been jealous.
“I felt that it was my fault,” Pinkston said Friday. “I brought it upon myself so I took the consequences.”
Pinkston then elected to work at the factory during his suspension, and Villanova head coach Jay Wright said he ultimately benefitted from the experience.
“I think he’s learned a great deal from last season and that’s what life’s all about,” Wright told SNY.tv last month. “It’s not about always what happens to you, it’s how you react to it. He’s really handled the situation well. He had to work this whole year. He worked in a warehouse. It wasn’t pretty. I wouldn’t say he enjoyed it, but I think he learned a lot from it and I think he values being a college athlete a lot more after he had to work for a few months.”
Now that he’s back with the team, Pinkston’s reward is a trip to Europe.
Villanova leaves Sunday for a nine-day, five-game excursion to Paris and Amsterdam.
Pinkston, a McDonald’s All-American out of Bishop Loughlin High School, has never been to Europe.
“This will be my first time,” Pinkston said. “It’s going to be fun to get back out there, playing with my teammates.”
Kimani Young, the New Heights AAU athletic director, has been a mentor to Pinkston and attended Villanova practice Friday.
“He looked great,” Young told SNY.tv. “He’s in shape. “He’s really working hard on the defensive end. He looked great.”
Pinkston figures to play the three for coach Wright, and with the departure of Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena his offensive input will be sorely needed.
Wright will rely on guard Maalik Wayns and big men Isaiah Armwood and Mouph Yarou to lead the team, but Pinkston could provide a much-needed shot in the arm.
“He just said go out there and play your hardest and do what I have to do and play my game,” Pinkston said.
After a year in a factory instead of on the hardwood, Young says Pinkston has learned his lesson and is ready to move on.
“I think he just learned responsibility,” Young said. “What it’s going to be like, life after basketball. He got a great taste of it this year. We just hope this is an experience he can carry with him the rest of his life.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.