Immanuel Quickley is quite well known in the SEC this season — he’s leading the conference’s No. 1 team in scoring at 16.2 points per game and he has exploded for double-digit points in each of the last 17 games.
He is quickly solidifying himself as one of the best second-year players in the John Calipari era at Kentucky. Others who have had this kind of success in their second-year return have been rewarded with the opportunity to play at the next level.
Quickley has been on a new level of success since the Louisville game on Dec. 28, but NBA scouts are just now starting to take notice of him, ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony told the Lexington Herald-Leader prior to Tuesday’s win over Texas A&M.
“I think he’s starting to pique the interest of NBA guys,” Givony said. He added that he heard from people within the NBA about Quickley’s abilities.
But while interest is growing, Quickley isn’t finding himself on any mock drafts or prospect boards just yet.
The reason for a delay in the NBA’s reaction to Quickley’s stardom could be a misconception about his inability to play the point. Givony noted on Twitter that Quickley hasn’t created for others this season, instead operating in a catch-and-shoot kind of role.
Last night's win at LSU was the best game Immanuel Quickley has played at Kentucky. He's in the midst of an All-SEC season, but his struggles creating offense for himself and others in the half-court has been an issue projecting to the NBA. He looked much better in that regard. pic.twitter.com/KeKJLDNfX3— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 19, 2020
But that’s not the role UK has needed Quickley to play in. Calipari has noted time and time again that he is starting three point guards in Quickley, Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans. Of those three, Quickley has arguably been the least-frequent ball handler. His job is to execute off-ball movement and scoring off of passes from the other guards.
Because of that, Quickley may need to change the perception of his game. He’s revealed himself to be a fill-it-up scorer this season. If NBA scouts perceive him as a scorer rather than a creating point guard, they could be more likely to take him.
But does he need another year to prove what he’s best at? Or could he show NBA scouts that he is actually a good on-ball point guard if he stays and Maxey and Hagans leave for the draft? Both are projected to be picked, potentially giving Quickley a window to be UK’s point guard for another season before going to the draft himself.
Quickley still has a lot of time to show what he’s capable of this season, and the SEC and NCAA tournaments will give him more of a prime stage to draw some attention. But with his current stock, it seems as though he could still have more to prove when the season ends.