On Immanuel Quickley’s fridge hangs a list of goals he wants to accomplish this season. He wouldn’t share them with reporters at Media Day, but said they represent the new mindset he’s bringing into year two at Kentucky.
“I keep those to myself,” Quickley said. “I’ve worked really hard on myself.”
That hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. John Calipari singled Quickley out during his Media Day press conference, comparing his new approach to PJ Washington’s a year ago.
“Immanuel is not even the same player,” Cal said. “I mean, I had someone come in and watch us practice and say, he’s not even the same guy. The reason is he’s in a different frame of mind. It’s kind of like when PJ came back. PJ came back, it’s not that he just came back, he came back with a different mentality. He came back with a change of how he responded and how he saw things. Immanuel seems to be that guy right now.”
Quickley and freshman guard Tyrese Maxey are in the gym together almost every morning at 6 a.m. working on their craft. He said his performance last season was “pretty good,” but now that he knows what to expect from the game and his coaches, he’s raising the bar.
“I’ve been working on my body, changing a lot of parts of my game, just working to be the all-around best player I can be. That’s why you come to Kentucky, so you can play and practice against the best. My mindset has changed. Like last year, playing against guys like Tyler (Herro), Keldon (Johnson) and PJ and all them, my confidence has increased. Knowing I can play against them, I know I can play against anyone.”
Quickley didn’t say he lost some of his love for basketball during his freshman year, but admitted that his renewed confidence has made the game more fun.
“On the floor I’ve just got a little more joy. A little more kick to me, I guess you could say. Having fun on the floor.”
That’s easy to say in the preseason, but what happens during the grind of SEC play in January and February?
“Now he’s building his own confidence,” Calipari said. “I can’t give him confidence. I can help him gain confidence, he’s got to build it himself. Then you got to get into games and you got to have demonstrated performance. You got to do something in the games that convinces you, not me, that I got this. So but he’s done great.”