Calipari is finally on the board with the 2018 recruiting class, as five star point guard Immanuel Quickley just pledged to play his college ball in blue.
Maybe more familiar with Coach Cal than any other player in his class, Quickley’s official visit to Lexington beginning Friday September 15 was the last domino to fall in a recruitment that had been largely viewed as Kentucky’s to lose for a long time.
Ranked 8th overall by 247’s Composite, Quickley is a huge get for multiple reasons.
Most important is that the kid can really play basketball. While there isn't one part of his offensive style that sticks out as elite, he is a balanced point guard who is very good at almost every aspect of the game. He can mix scoring with playmaking, and can be played off the ball if need be.
Being able to play at both guard spots can be a major asset for Kentucky next year if Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander return for a sophomore season.
Quickley was also among the players chosen to play under Calipari for the USA U19 World Cup team in Egypt last summer. He has spent time with his new coach, knows what to expect in practices, and can be a sort of mentor to his fellow freshman when they get to campus next year. Starting in all seven games, Quickley averaged 6.7 points, 2.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds for the bronze medal winning team.
This summer, Rivals’ Corey Evans characterized Quickley as “all about the team” and “one of the most engaging and toughest on-ball defenders in America.” If defense is his elite skill, he could fit in very with Cal’s other targets; R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson (ranked 1 and 2 by 247 composite, respectively) can both get buckets and would thrive with table-setting point guards.
Pairing one or both of them with a lockdown perimeter defender would take some pressure off on the defensive end and allow them to do what they do best.
Speaking of Zion Williamson, Quickley’s commitment to the Cats could be a very helpful component in getting the electrifying forward to play in Lexington for a season. Williamson and Quickley, who both played AAU ball on the Adidas circuit, have previously expressed interest in playing with one another.
“Package deal” talk can often be exaggerated in how much it really comes into play with these recruitments, but it certainly can't hurt Kentucky’s chances in landing other top prospects. Like Green before him, Quickley is a guy that others want to play with.
But regardless of who Quickley helps bring in, fans should be thrilled to call him a Wildcat. He is next up in the long line of great Kentucky point guards and will be one of the most balanced guards that Cal has had during his tenure.
Quickley could be playing on a Kentucky team that is absolutely loaded with quality options in the backcourt by the time Calipari is finished with the recruiting class and NBA draft declarations have been made. Even then, it will be nearly impossible to keep Immanuel Quickly off the court.
Strengths: He's a big lead guard with great size and even better length. He has pretty naturally broad shoulders with equally long arms and legs. He has a high I.Q. and good instinctive feel for the game. He's very fluid with the ball, a dependable decision maker and good passer in a variety of situations. He uses his size to see and pass over the defense, feeds the post beautifully and throws ahead in transition. He's equally adept at handling to both sides and even moves pretty well without the ball. He's capable of making some tough shots, both from behind the arc and off the dribble, and also has a good knack for utilizing his length - 2013 both going through the lane off the dribble as well as on the defensive end of the floor.
Weaknesses: As he fills out his frame and finishes growing into his body, Quickley could also polish some of his individual offense. He has a narrow base to his shot with his feet close together, too much excess motion with the ball and a low release point. While he shoots a good three-point percentage during Adidas Gauntlet play he also mixed in some bad misses. He also really struggles to finish at the rim at this stage. He's a good, not great, athlete who relies as much on his size, length and intelligence.
Bottom Line: Quickley is a blossoming big point guard who might not be a truly elite athlete and still needs to polish some aspects of his individual offense but has terrific size and length for the position, a good instinct and ability to make plays for himself and others.
Here are some highlights of the newest Cat in action: