As expected, Immanuel Quickley is off to the NBA Draft. The SEC Player of the Year made the announcement on Monday, forgoing his remaining eligibility to begin his pursuit of the NBA dream.
Thanks to his breakout sophomore season, Quickley now has a chance to hear his name called somewhere in the late Round 1/early Round 2 range whenever the draft happens, which should get him that coveted guaranteed rookie contract and set him up for the rest of his life.
After the decision was announced, head coach John Calipari released a statement on his star guard heading off to the pros.
“Immanuel was an absolute pleasure to coach over the last two years,” Calipari said. “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.”
In addition to winning SEC Player of the Year, Quickley was named a Third-Team All-American by The Athletic, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report.
Quickley is the third Kentucky underclassman to declare for the draft, joining sophomore guard Ashton Hagans and freshman guard Tyrese Maxey. Junior center Nick Richards is also expected to go pro, while sophomore forward EJ Montgomery is strongly considering making the jump as well.