Immanuel Quickley has been around the block with Kentucky. Sure, he’s only a sophomore, but his experiences on and off the court in Lexington have molded him into a successful (and still improving) leader for the Wildcats.
After the Cats’ win over Alabama Saturday afternoon, Quickley weighed in on that experience, saying simple things like understanding his own daily schedule and being familiar with campus has made it easier to focus on his game. That comfort level has clearly translated into strong performances on the court, where he’s made 14 of his last 23 three-pointers throughout the past four games. He credits his success to God and spending more time in the gym. As for the latter, his head coach has certainly noticed.
“He’s a confident kid, and what he does is he spends so much time in the gym, he expects to make them. If you know you’re not [giving] 100 percent, if you’re not spending the time you can, you still look in the mirror. And if you’re giving 80 percent and then you get in the game and it doesn’t play out for you, you know,” John Calipari said. “The kid lives in the gym. He’s kind of like Tyler [Herro], he’s like Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], those guys. He’s just like them.”
Herro and Gilgeous-Alexander were both gym rats during their time at Kentucky; they became two notorious members of the “breakfast club” on their respective teams. Calipari’s comparison between those two players and Quickley isn’t a random one. Quickley is simply the next guy to take on that mindset.
Calipari on Immanuel Quickley's gym time and work ethic:
"Tyler Herro, Shai Alexander? He's just like them"
— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisKSR) January 11, 2020
“I learned a lot [from Tyler Herro]. I learned that he’s a guy that works just as hard as me,” Quickley said after the game about his former teammate. “And I’ve learned a lot from Shai – Shai is one of my good friends. Really just seeing those guys and how hard they work carries over to me, and I just want to be able to do the same thing and maybe one day be in their position.”
In addition to more gym time, Quickley also said he’s been focused on watching more film this year, saying he’s “watching for things I could do in the game that I see in other people, so that I can make the right read.” The sophomore says he’ll spend 30 to 35 minutes watching film alongside a manager whenever he has some free time. Sometimes he’ll watch his own footage and look for improvements, but sometimes he’ll watch someone else’s. And sometimes, that “someone else” is Tyler Herro.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film… I watch a lot of Tyler from last year, because I’m kind of going to be put in those same positions,” Quickley said. “The reads he makes, the pocket passes off the bounce, when he pulls up. Just trying to take those things and implement them in my game.”
Last season, Herro certainly got his fair share of big-time moments. There were his four three-pointers on the road against Louisville, his “bucket” free throws down the stretch, and his go-ahead three-pointer in the Sweet 16 against Houston, when the Cats were trailing 58-57 with less than a minute to play.
Quickley is right – he’s already been put in similar situations. He had 18 points in the Cats’ overtime win over Louisville; he’s close to beating Herro’s own free-throw record. He was given the go-ahead three against Alabama Saturday afternoon, even when his own coach “iced” him with a timeout before the play. It didn’t matter; Quickley sank the shot that was designed for him anyway. He’ll surely continue to have big plays drawn for him throughout the remainder of the season.
“My teammates and coaches have a lot of trust in me and I appreciate that,” Quickley said. “I’ve just got to keep going to work by myself when nobody is watching so I can be ready for moments like those.”
If this season (specifically the last four games) can serve as any indication – and if his extra time in the gym stays consistent – Quickley will be ready. Maybe he’ll even be a bucket.