Between the blowouts in the Bahamas and practices so intense John Calipari had to start issuing “attitude points” for trash talk, we know this is a competitive group, but Immanuel Quickley best summed up their dog-eat-dog mentality when asked about Kentucky’s first exhibition opponent, the Transylvania Pioneers.
“I haven’t heard too much about them, but you respect every opponent, whoever you play,” the freshman guard said. “Whoever we play, we’re going at their necks 110 percent.”
As you might expect, a group this competitive can’t wait to play someone other than each other.
“Starting with us, we’re just really excited to play against somebody else,” Quickley said. “We’ve been going at each other in practice every single day, so going against somebody else is going to be really exciting. Cal’s really excited about this team. He feels we’re going to be good this year.”
Quickley and fellow freshman point guard Ashton Hagans started opposite each other in the Blue/White Game but Calipari plans to experiment using them separately and together over the next two exhibitions.
“They’re both going to play. They’re both a little bit different, but both really effective. And both are really getting better…I may start a group in the first half and a different group in the second half. I may do that for a while until we figure out who’s who.”
What would a Quickley/Hagans backcourt look like? A defensive juggernaut.
“We really haven’t played with each other at practice, but yesterday [Calipari] switched up the groups and we played a little bit with each other,” Hagans said. “We both love playing defense and we can get ours on the offensive end. He just wants us to be aggressive, try to create turnovers and get easy buckets on the defensive end and talk on defense, get better on defense.”
Regardless of who starts, Hagans said going against Quickley in practice each day is already paying dividends.
“He makes me better each and every day. He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. Seeing him in the gym daily made me want to go in there and work hard because that’s who I’m going against for the spot. Off the court, we’re real close. Also, we watch a little film together sometimes. We just try to make each other better.”