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How can Immanuel Quickey take a step forward as a sophomore?

When Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey committed to the school back in May of 2020, many penciled the 6-foot-3 dynamic scorer in as a guaranteed starter for the 2019-20 roster. And then when starting point guard Ashton Hagans made the surprisingly-quick decision to return for his sophomore season in April, he locked himself in as a starter, as well.

With most of the (admittedly-deserved) attention on Maxey and Hagans for the backcourt next season, where does former five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley fit into the equation?

Averaging 5.2 points on 37.2% shooting and 34.5% from three to go with 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest last season, the 6-foot-3 guard’s numbers certainly don’t jump off the page on first glance. In fact, in 15 of his 37 total games the Havre De Grace, MD native finished with three points or less for the Wildcats.

On the flip side, Quickley also managed scoring totals of 15, 12 (four times), 10, 9, and 8 (three times) throughout his freshman season, along with several clutch moments at the end of games at the free throw line and from beyond the arc. Some would even argue that between Hagans and Quickley, the latter was the better all-around player toward the end of the season.

Unless you’re one of the few elite prospects we see year after year (and even sometimes if you are), there are growing pains and inconsistencies for true freshmen at the college level. Quickley fell right in line with that common theme.

Now that we’re on to year two for the former five-star prospect, how can he find his groove consistently this season and shine as the consensus top-25 recruit he came to Lexington as last season?

Keep developing confidence as a shooter

While he certainly hit some big shots from three on occasion last season, Quickley has the potential and ability to be a consistent knockdown shooter in the Kentucky backcourt moving forward.

Next to Tyrese Maxey, who is also expected to be an elite shooter next season, the Wildcats can put out lineups that absolutely torch opposing teams from deep in 2019-20. Quickley would certainly be included in that.

In fact, Calipari can roll out a pure-shooting group of Maxey, Quickley, Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina, and EJ Montgomery at times, where each participant has the ability to knock down open jumpers at a consistent rate from three. In fact, one could argue every one those individuals has the potential to shoot at least 30% from three next year, with Maxey, Quickley, and Juzang all capable of shooting 38% or higher.

Quickley has already had eight games with two or more 3-pointers on 50% shooting (or higher), but his per-game ceiling is far greater than that. 34.5% certainly keeps defenders honest, but he has the ability to push upwards of 40% at a consistent clip. Confidence is the only thing limiting him from reaching that point.

When he finds his shot, he’s money on open opportunities both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. When that confidence slips, we see poor shooting displays such as Auburn (1-6), Abilene Christian (0-3), LSU (1-4), and at Florida (1-5).

The potential is there, he just needs to keep building his confidence to get to that point.

Look to be a facilitator

Back at the adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, SC in 2017, Quickley was easily one of the most impressive prospects in attendance. In fact, his head-to-head matchup with Zion Williamson at the time was one of the most highly-anticipated games of the entire weekend, where Quickley’s Team BBC squad defeated Williamson’s SC Supreme 68-64. The Wildcat guard posted 20 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, while Williamson finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.

While Quickley stuffed the stat sheet in that event and throughout his entire AAU career, the most impressive aspect of his game had nothing to do with his impressive shooting stroke or his ability to finish in the lane. It was the ridiculous court vision and passing ability he possessed that really turned heads. In fact, I would contend that if he had more talent around him on Team BBC, he could have averaged upwards of 12 or 13 assists per contest on the AAU circuit. One of the most frustrating parts of watching the Wildcat guard play was that he would pull off tremendous passes and find his teammates open time and time again, they would just miss the shots.

At Kentucky, Quickley mostly relied on catch-and-shoot opportunities to assert himself in the offense, completely ignoring one of his most impressive attributes. In year two, the UK point guard needs to continue to find his shot, but he can truly be a difference-maker from game one as a facilitator.

With ridiculous depth from top to bottom of the roster, opportunities for assists are there this season. He never finished with more than four assists in a single game last year, but I expect that to change this season.

Continue to get to the line

Quickley was inconsistent at times from a shooting perspective last year, but one thing that never changed was his ridiculous ability to knock down shots at the free throw line at an elite rate.

Shooting 83% from the line last year, Quickley was easily one of the most reliable players on the team, specifically when games went down to the wire. With the 6-foot-3 point guard in the lineup in the closing seconds, you could always rely on him to come through in the clutch in high-pressure moments. In fact, the only reason why his elite ability at the line wasn’t more publicized was because Kentucky just-so-happened to have the greatest free throw shooter in Kentucky history, Tyler Herro, on the roster and in the game down the stretch last year.

In 37 games last year, Quickley only missed 11 total free throws. In his sophomore season, he needs to continue to force the situation and get to the line more often. With Herro off to the NBA, they’ll likely need him on multiple occasions in 2019-20.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

16 Comments for How can Immanuel Quickey take a step forward as a sophomore?

  1. az1006
    5:52 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

    Lots of folks talk about the incoming freshmen, but I think Quickly could easily be the most important guard on the team not named Ashton Hagans. He can be an elite defender, and there won’t be a learning curve there. And, as you mentioned, he has the potential to be a dougle-digit scoring threat night-in and night-out. He was inconsistent as a frosh, to be sure, but he’s got the tools and skills to be a big-time player for us going forward.

    • grammarpoliceUK
      6:08 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

      I agree, Also, I look for a drop in 3 point shots and percentages if the NCAA follows through and moves the 3 point lines back.

    • JerryCat
      7:37 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

      I think quickley will take a step past hagans this year. He was the better guard at the end of last season

  2. krautdog
    5:53 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

    Did you overlook Kyle Macy?

    • krautdog
      6:13 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

      Did Herro’s percentage exceed Macy’s?

    • Jack Pilgrim
      6:23 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

      Kyle Macy didn’t come within .23% of Herro’s single-season record of 93.5% in any of his four years at Kentucky.

    • krautdog
      10:07 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

      Kyle Macy 91.2%(1980)

  3. Catcasey1
    6:05 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

    He’s to good to be on the bench. Cal should run three guards a lot next year but that’s why I’m sitting here typing at home

  4. Luether
    9:11 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

    My sources say Quickley will be greatly improved from his Freshman season…

    • dave1964
      7:43 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

      I hope your source is not the same one that said Richards game had improved.

  5. michaelb
    11:36 pm June 3, 2019 Permalink

    Just more confidence. He’s already decent at about everything. A Lil improvement on team d. Cuz he’s a good one on one defender . All he needs is opportunity his game will grow this year . By tourney time he’ll be a top 15 guard

  6. kuhlkat
    12:02 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

    Good article. But putting Montgomery in the “pure shooting” group is beyond hilarious.

  7. Cletis75
    12:41 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

    Quickley should see a lot of playing time next year. Cal loves good defense and he is only going to get better. If he gets a little more confidence, he’s going to be trouble for any opponent we play. I think by late December he will be on the floor a lot. His effort reminds me of Ed Davender.

  8. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    4:05 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

    I was/am one of the Quickly fans who believed without him we go home earlier in the tourny. I honestly believe if he can get a more confident 3pt shot and pass selection he has all the tools to surpass Hagans all around. That being said if Hagans can play at even 90% full time defensively he’ll be a nightmare.

  9. dave1964
    7:39 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

    Plain and simple he must improve or his minutes will drop just like Richards.

  10. zoupman
    9:55 am June 4, 2019 Permalink

    Cal will do a great job of coaching this team and play the players who give the team the best chance to win.