We all can get drained following a college recruitment. The lists being cut to 15, then 10, then five. The drama of hanging onto every quote and over-analyzing every prospect’s social media post.
That’s why Immanuel Quickley’s recruitment was a breath of fresh air. He took visits and had a list, but he was as honest as a recruit could be during his recruitment. He talked leaders and ignored building up drama.
He also didn’t want the schools that missed out on him waiting until the spring unsure if they were landing a five-star point guard, so once he knew he wanted to commit to UK that’s exactly what Quickley did.
Quickley said the first time he knew the Cats were in a good spot was after playing for Calipari in the summer of 2017 for the Team USA U19 team.
“After USA when I was playing with Coach Cal was a big one,” Quickley said. “I got to see him not only on the floor but off the floor. He was a real down to Earth guy that I think a lot of people don’t get to see when we were in Egypt on camels and seeing the Pyramids of Giza and stuff like that. I think that was one of the turning points in my recruitment.”
Although the United States failed to win gold, it didn’t take long for Quickley to see why so many of Calipari’s point guards are successful at the next level. That summer Quickley was only coached by Calipari for a few weeks, but now he’s getting to spend time with the Hall of Fame head coach everyday.
“On the floor that was my first time playing for him,” Quickley said. “I see why his point guards do so good because he pushes them. It’s not easy playing for Coach Cal but if you just put in the work and listen to what he’s got to say you’ll do fine.”
And as for that upset loss to Canada in the semifinals? That’s something that isn’t discussed between Calipari and Quickley.
“That has never came up again,” Quickley said. “It will always be a memory for me just visiting Egypt. That’s something a lot of people can’t say they’ve done before.”
But UK’s staff still needed to build a relationship with Quickley and his family, and oddly enough Quickley said his college head coach and his mother share a lot of the same traits.
“Coach Cal was really transparent and real real with me,” Quickley said. “My mom has always been real with me, she doesn’t lie to me. She tells me what I need to hear not what I want to hear. I think that’s kinda how Coach Cal was with me. He told me the truth. He told me other point guards were going to be here with me but I just gotta work hard and things like that, so I think that’s the real reason why I wanted to come to Kentucky.”
Calipari told Quickley that they would be bringing in other guards. The Cats also signed Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro at the guard position, plus Quade Green returned for his sophomore season. With Keldon Johnson being a true three, there’s a lot of bodies for seemingly only two positions.
Quickley embraced the crowded backcourt.
“The NBA is kinda the same way,” Quickley said. “It’s gonna be six, five or six players at one position. If you’re running from it now you’re definitely not gonna be ready for it at the next level.”
And it’s made for battles in practice.
“Practices have been real hard,” Quickley said. “I’m going against Ashton, Keldon is going against Tyler. The bigs are going against each other and everybody is getting better just from the high level of play and everybody is rising up. I think when we got against competition it made it a lot easier because we were going against somebody else. Practices are way harder than the games.”
The steady Quickley had a solid showing in the Bahamas in August. He may not be UK’s best shooter, most athletic player, or best defender, but he’s a do-it-all guard with few weaknesses. In four games in the Bahamas he averaged 7.3 points, a team-high 4.5 assists and over one steal per game.
“Individually I’m just looking forward to getting better everyday,” Quickley said. “I enjoy that part of the process of just getting better, working on my game and stuff like that.
“As a team, kinda the same thing. Getting better as a team everyday. We compete and practice hard. We’re going at it. By the time March comes hopefully we’ll be ready and we’ll be really well-tuned, fine-tuned at what we do.”
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series: