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Kentucky Basketball Preview: Immanuel Quickley will excel in whatever his role is

Quickley is the ultimate utility man with a skill set that can excel in any lineup.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Who are we talking about?

Immanuel Quickley, freshman point guard.

What did he do before Kentucky?

Quickley was the first player to commit to John Calipari in the 2018 class. As has become tradition, he immediately hit the recruiting trail to surround himself with talent in Lexington. Looking around the locker room right now, he has to be feeling pretty good about his production.

Quickley continued to excel on the court as well, leading John Carroll High School to a conference title in Maryland and becoming a McDonald’s All-American. He also played for Coach Cal last summer in the FIBA U-19 games, where Team USA won a bronze medal.

2017-18 statistics:

37 games (John Carroll High School), 20.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game. Averaged 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds per game and shot 42.1 percent from behind the three-point line in the Adidas Summer Championship.

His best performance before Kentucky:

Quickley’s success is much more impressive cumulatively than it is in any individual situation. He was a three-time all-state selection in Maryland, won two state championships, played for Team USA’s U19 team, and excelled at the McDonald’s All-American Game including a victory in the 3-Point Contest.

Quickley is as consistent as you would even find a college freshman, and success has followed him everywhere he has played.

Hey may be the answer to any question asked about this team

Each season, fans expect John Calipari to land a top point guard to lead the team. It was always assumed that Quickley would be that guy for this season, and then something interesting happened. Calipari went out and convinced Ashton Hagans, a top 2019 point guard, to reclassify and come a year early.

UK Athletics

Many speculate that this move had as much to do with Quickley as it did Hagans, and expectations for Quickley started to fall. He was one of the top 5 point guards in 2018 and Calipari obviously loved him, so why would Calipari go out and get another guy even with Quade Green coming back?

I believe that we got our answer in the Bahamas. Early on, it seems that Calipari was simply hoarding stud point guards.

Quickley started three of the four games during the summer trip, which surprised many of those that assumed Hagans would be the primary starter. He played 24 minutes per game, averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 assists per contest.

Quickly shot 40% from three, which will absolutely guarantee minutes if he can keep that up. But the biggest and most important statistic from the trip is that he had 18 assists and only 2 turnovers. He did this serving as the primary point guard for the team, which is excellent news.

During that trip, Quickley showed that he is the real deal. He protects the ball, he distributes, he defends very well, and he can create his own shot. Quickley appears to be the perfect prototype for a point guard. He is more athletic than Green, more disciplined than Hagans, and has complementary skills that will allow him to play alongside either.

But perhaps Quickley’s biggest contribution to this team is his work ethic. From the time he committed back in September of 2017, he dedicated himself to Kentucky basketball.

At that time, it meant bettering himself and getting in the ears of Keldon Johnson and EJ Montgomery. When he arrived on campus in June, that has translated to extra hours in the gym. He gets to practice early to get shots up and he closes down the gym at night. He’s following the model of Brandon Knight in trying to be the hardest working guy on the team.

Te NBA Pro Day showed that the work is paying off. Quickley checked in with the team’s highest maximum vertical jump at 37” and came in second in the 34 court sprint and lane agility drill. He athleticism has been very underrated up to this point, and he is finally showing people that he not only belongs on this team, but he stands out among an elite group of players.

The beauty of Quickley’s game is his versatility. Playing alongside Green, he can certainly play the role of play maker and distributor. When Hagans is on the court, he can spot up to get shots and make plays off the ball.

Quickley is the ultimate utility player that can also be “the guy” if you need him to be. For a player whose stock appeared to dip when Coach Cal brought in a 3rd point guard this spring, Quickley may end up being the one that carries this team when things get tough.

There are players on this team that can shoot better than Quickley. There are better defenders, rebounders, and maybe even passers. But if you are looking for a guy that can make a play from either back court position and contribute in any lineup, Immanuel Quickley is your man.

It just so happens that Quickley has been so good that John Calipari has said the point guard battle is a two-man race between Quickley and Hagans, as Quade Green will play off the ball this year. That speaks to how confident Calipari is in Quickley running the show that he’s essentially passed Green in that role.

Quickley actually got the start in Kentucky’s first exhibition game against Transy, but foul troubled limited his impact, as he finished with 3 points on 1/2 shooting but did grab six boards and dish out 4 assists vs. 1 turnover in 17 minutes.

Before this season is over, Big Blue Nation is going to realize just how important his commitment to this team was last September. He is going to be the one player, both on and off the court, that ultimately sets the direction for this group.

And based on what we have seen so far, they very well may be headed in the direction of the Final Four in Minneapolis in April.

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