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Immanuel Quickley drafted in first round by OKC and traded to New York

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The Knicks add another former Cat!

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Immanuel Quickely just became an NBA player, and a lot sooner than most expected.

With the 25th overall pick in Round 1 of the 2020 NBA Draft, Immanuel Quickley was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he would have teamed up with former Cats Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nerlens Noel and Hamidou Diallo. However, the pick was traded to the New York Knicks, where he’ll join former forward Kevin Knox Jr. and former associate head coach Kenny Payne.

The 6-3 guard out of Maryland will begin his pro career after becoming one of the best scorers in college basketball last season. The 2020 SEC Player of the Year led the Wildcats with 16.1 points per game and ended the season on a 20-game double-figure scoring streak.

The 20-game double-figure scoring streak to end the season is the best run since Malik Monk scored in double figures in 30 straight games during the 2016-17 season. During the 20-game stretch, Quickley scored 20+ points eight times and made 3+ triples seven times, including a career-high eight at Texas A&M.

“Immanuel was an absolute pleasure to coach over the last two years,” head coach Calipari said when Quickley declared for the draft. “I had as much fun coaching him and watching him grow than just about any player I’ve ever coached. Like some of our other guys that have gone on and done special things, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro, he absolutely works his tail off. He takes his conditioning seriously, has unbelievable discipline, unwavering faith, confidence and spent just about all of his extra time in that gym.

“His reward: SEC Player of the Year, as voted on by the coaches. I’ve been in this league for 11 years and only had that happen three other times. Think about that with some of the kids we’ve had go through here.

“There’s no question in my mind that his growth in the NBA will be on the same path that it was here, which is steep. He is a wonderful, centered young man who has fought his way to the point of being a first-round draft pick. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on that next level.”

As a freshman during the 2018-19 season, Quickley averaged 5.2 points per game with 30 triples in 18.5 minutes per game as a reserve.

As a sophomore, Quickley scored in double figures in 26 of the 30 games he played in and topped the 20-point plateau in eight. He made a team-high 62 3-pointers — including making a 3 in 28 games and 11 straight to end the season — and shot a team-high 42.8% from behind the arc.

Quickley won SEC Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks in late February/early March, becoming the first Wildcat in school history to win SEC Player of the Week consecutively (dating back to the 1984-85 season). He won three times total this season.

During the 20-game stretch of scoring in double figures to end the season, Quickley averaged 18.6 points to go along with 4.6 rebounds per game and made 50 3-pointers while shooting 47.2% from long range. He poured in a career-high 30 points at Texas A&M and sunk a career-best eight 3-pointers to become the first UK player with 30+ points since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 on Jan. 30, 2018, vs. Vanderbilt. He’s also the first player with back-to-back 25+ point games since Monk from Feb. 25-28, 2017. The eight 3s tied Monk, Jamal Murray and Eric Bledsoe for the most 3-pointers in a game during the Calipari era.

Quickley was widely projected as a late second-round pick, so to see him go in the first round is incredible and so great to see. Quickley is a really amazing kid everyone should be rooting for, so good luck to him in the pros!

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