Ja’Quill Stone doesn’t watch for the highlights.
In fact, he’s watches for the exact opposite reason.
Stone is the senior point guard on the Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team, and his father Rikk’s company, Memories in Stone Photography, records the games. Then after the game, he makes videos of the big plays for fans to check out.
Stone will tune in to see the raw copy but he’s not looking for his great passes or sharp shooting.
“My dad shoots everything, and I like to watch to see what I’m not doing right,” Stone said. “I always want to see how I can play better and see what I’m doing wrong.
“My dad loves doing it. And everyone loves watching it. I like it because I can see what I need to get better in, but I like it because it’s something we do together. He’s really good at it, too.”
His dad isn’t the only sharp shooter in the family, but Stone uses a basketball instead of a camera to get his points across.
Stone has been a contributor on the team since his sophomore year, when the Raiders advanced to the state semifinals. But that year, Stone was an understudy and chipping in whenever starters needed a blow. Last year, he became one of the key players on the team and this year, he is the unquestioned leader of the team.
If you’ve seen him this year, you’ve probably noticed him being the leader, but that’s not something that came naturally.
“Coach (Joe Zeglinski) told me I had to change my body language,” Stone said. “When things wouldn’t go my way, I would put my head down. I didn’t mean to do it, but coach told me if I wanted to be a leader, I had to change.
“I don’t think I really fixed it until the beginning of this season. This year, I felt more like a leader. I was happy because I always wanted to do it. I just had to work at it.”
Stone has put in the work all year, and because of it the Raiders qualified for the playoffs, but they were ousted in the first round after a 35-31 loss to St. Joe’s Prep. Colin Reed scored 15 points for the Raiders, who also got 10 points from Aaron Lemon-Warren.
The loss was disappointing for Stone and his teammates, but it was a little more tolerable after he talked to his coach following the game.
“I really thought that was it for us, but then coach told us we still have states,” said Stone, who will guide the Raiders into a District 12 5A third-place game next week against an opponent to be determined. “I really didn’t want it to end. I love playing at Ryan.
“This year wasn’t the way we wanted it to be, we lost a few games that we could have won, but I have no complaints about how we played. We had a lot of guys who didn’t have varsity experience and they played great. They worked hard and tried. We just didn’t win.”
Stone proved to be a good all-around player this year, which is why he was selected as a Second-Team All-Catholic. He averaged 12 points per game, which isn’t bad considering he was a pass-first player.
“I like to get everyone involved and run the offense,” Stone said. “We have guys who can score. The more we work it, the better we are. We’re hard to stop when everyone is going.”
The Southwest Philadelphia native enjoyed getting everyone going both on and off the court. That’s the kind of attitude he picked up as a sophomore when he was playing with guys like Izaiah Brockington and Matiss Kulackovkis.
“That had to be the best team I’ve ever been on,” Stone said. “I learned so much with them. It was kind of easy to learn because you would just sit back and see how they did things. There were Division I players on that team, and they worked really hard. I just tried to learn as much as possible.
“This year, I tried to help the guys who never played (varsity) before. I learned how to control myself and the ball when driving from Izaiah. I picked that up from him. I hope people saw something I did.”
Stone did learn a lot from the older guys at Ryan, and he credits Zeglinski with teaching him a lot, too. He also said his trainer, Lou Leonard, a Frankford grad, helped him a lot over the summer.
“Coach Zig always helped me, every day,” Stone said. “He never stops teaching us. Everyone on the team loves playing for him because he wants us to get better.”
Next year, Stone will continue his progression in the game he loves and he hopes it leads to even bigger opportunities down the road.
He is bound for Woodstock Academy, a prep school in Connecticut that is known for churning out basketball stars.
“I think I can keep learning and get noticed,” said Stone, who wants to eventually play Division I and major in either sports medicine or business. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
A great opportunity just like the one he had at Ryan.
“I love Ryan,” Stone said. “I love it so much. It’s everything to me. I loved playing basketball there and the school was great. I’m going to miss everything about it, but mostly the people.”
He’s also going to miss his teammates.
But he still has work to do with them.
“I think playing (in the Catholic League) will help us a lot in states,” Stone said. “We’ve played great teams tough. I think that can only help us.”