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With a return to Kentucky, Calipari believes Immanuel Quickley could take over lead point guard role

Out of all of the players on the current Kentucky basketball roster, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley has the toughest decision to make regarding his future.

On one hand, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Havre de Grace, MD made an unprecedented jump as a sophomore, going from averaging 5.2 points in 18.5 minutes per game in year one to 16.1 points in 33 minutes per contest in year two. It was a jump that earned him SEC Player of the Year and All-SEC First Team honors this season.

On the other, Quickley’s role as a slightly undersized off-ball scorer hasn’t earned him much credit on the draft boards, as most analysts have the sophomore guard currently listed anywhere from the middle of the second round to undrafted. Should he return for a junior season, Quickley could take over the lead point guard position and prove his versatility to NBA scouts looking for guards who can thrive at either guard spot. In this scenario, he could also take incoming freshman guard Devin Askew under his wing and groom him for the 2021-22 season while he finds his legs at the college level.

Should he opt for a junior season, Kentucky head coach John Calipari says he is certainly open to the latter scenario.

“He could [play point guard]. He could,” Calipari said. “Jamal Murray did not play but about 15% point guard. I would say Immanuel played 5 or 8% point guard because the other two guys in front of him were better in pick-and-rolls and creating shots for their teammates. They weren’t a shot creator like he was, so the team used that strength and exploited that in him.”

Further improvement on defense could also be huge for the 6-foot-3 guard, who Calipari says “couldn’t stay in front of anyone” as a freshman, but is now one of the “best defenders” on the team.

“He couldn’t guard a year ago. If you remember, he couldn’t stay in front of anyone,” he said. “Now all of a sudden he became one of our best defenders and he would be in the huddle saying, ‘I got so and so. Let me guard him.’ Again, yes, would we be a better team, him being a point guard on this team coming back? Yes.”

Calipari stressed that while Quickley would be a great fit on next year’s roster, he shouldn’t make a decision based on that. He only wants his star guard to make the best decision for himself based on his mental and physical readiness, along with the mastery of his skills.

If he feels he’s falling short in any of those three categories, he would certainly applaud a return to school.

“That’s not why he should make a decision,” Calipari said. “His decision is, is this the right time? Am I ready to succeed in that league? Am I mentally ready? Which I know he is. Am I physically ready? Yeah. Have I mastered my skills the way I need to? That’s the decision he would have to come back to.

No matter what Quickley ultimately decides to do, Calipari is thrilled with the progress he made over the last year and how he was able to accomplish some of his greatest goals as a sophomore.

At the end of the day, Calipari feels the sophomore guard has been “one of the great kids” he has ever coached.

“Let me say this, what I’m so proud of of Immanuel, and I told the team this: On his wall, on his mirror in his bathroom in the lodge, his goal for this year was to be a starter. Was to be a starter!” Calipari said of Quickley. “From that, he became (SEC) Player of the Year as voted on by the coaches, who had to play against him. Player of the year in our league. … I think, again, one of the great kids that I’ve ever coached. One of the most grounded young men that I’ve ever coached.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

28 Comments for With a return to Kentucky, Calipari believes Immanuel Quickley could take over lead point guard role

  1. J. Did
    7:46 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Thought IQ was gone.
    Thought ASH was gone.

    This is news.

  2. Park
    8:03 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    No one has announced anything yet, not even Maxey.

  3. michaelb
    8:19 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Looks like quick is gonna want to stay to me . I’m really interested in hearing these players decisions

  4. michaelb
    8:20 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Does this seem like a nudge for Ashton to go pro or transfer ?

    • JASUN74
      8:29 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t think so. I know Cal loves the fight in Ashton and would love to have him back, I believe it’s more of he thinks Ashton is probably gone anyway. They’ll be no Transfer. Lol. The kid isn’t ready for the NBA NOW, but another year here or the G League would be incredible difference in him. He’s just got to put everything together and believe in himself and Ashton will be a good player in the league one day.
      Thanks Michael! Hope you’re doing good my friend. That goes for everyone.

    • michaelb
      12:05 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      Thank you , best wishes to you also buddy !

    • zoupman
      9:08 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      No nudge needed. Hagans acted like he did us a favor returning this year. No way he comes back, and I say good riddance.

  5. JASUN74
    8:24 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Maxey is the only sure fire pick as of this year. Everyone else that’s close but still probably a second rounder, could earn 3-4 million extra on their first contract by becoming a top 20 or even lottery pick. I’d actually live to see everyone come back and go for a championship.

    Of course Maxey is gone and I don’t blame him one bit, He’d be crazy not to go! Ashton definitely needs work if he’s going to get minutes in the NBA, another year and he’d be an All American! Same for Quickly and Richards. EJ 100% needs to return and work his butt off like PJ and Nick did. It’s a Win Win for everyone!! As far as numbers go, Cal can make it happen somehow. We are allowed 14 players, I say use it next year because of what’s happened and go for that 40-0 season Cal wants soo bad. Lol.

    I know we’ll eventually get back to normal in our country, I just miss sports soo bad. Sorry for the long post. I don’t think I know any other way. Haha. Go Cats!!

  6. JT55
    8:29 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    I know he’d let Quickley play some point but can imagine the spacing Quickley would create for Boston and the the others to operate.

  7. Fitz
    8:32 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Interesting comments from Cal. I think the pg position is on the table for Quickley to a) it’s an incentive for him to stay if he’s thinking about leaving, and b) Hagans is gone. Askew, a real deal pg is coming in but having the leadership of Quickley is crucial.

  8. UKLugo
    10:34 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Even if Hagans returns. Hagans should come off the bench.

    • Bluehender
      8:32 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      I think he’s gone but if he comes back he will start.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      6:42 pm March 26, 2020 Permalink

      Unless he grows up he’d be a danger to the teams ability to win in every game. If he does take a major jump in maturity then having him start would be a good thing. This is of course a big if because it takes a personal fight that many kids aren’t willing to get into.

  9. BlueWildcat_99
    11:16 pm March 25, 2020 Permalink

    Man I would LOVE to have quick and EJ back. Ashton I’m not so sure about.

  10. Theymademesignup
    2:32 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

    This site is a joke. I wonder why they post political shit like at 10PM but block comments. Matt’s scared to see what people have to say on the topic? It’s almost like Matt is a coward and that is why he did not run. He knew he would lose in a landslide.

    • scottg74
      3:27 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      Leave your liberal donkey in quarantine. We talking basketball you butt hurt amateur. You’ve been coughed on.

  11. dave1964
    8:06 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

    Aston is gone but will not play in the NBA anytime soon, Maxey is gone but he is the only one ready.

    • johnnycat
      8:08 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      Wouldn’t say Maxey is “ready”, but he could possibly see some pt next year in the league. He would for sure be a back up.

    • IrishCat
      12:05 pm March 27, 2020 Permalink

      If you can get minutes in the league at 19 or 20 years old, that means you’re ready…

  12. johnnycat
    8:07 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

    Nick is gone. No way he doesn’t get drafted in the first round. Would LOVE to see him back next year, but that’s selfish of me (us).

  13. MississippiBlue
    8:43 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

    I have to believe that Maxey, Nick, and Sestina are gone. Ashton and IQ need further evaluation in order to make an informed decision, but if either of them return it’ll be a blessing for next years team. I really like Devin Askew, and his ability to run a team and shoot. However, it’ll be a big step up for him, and he’ll probably need at least half a year to adjust to the speed and physicality of the college game.

  14. Gogh Big Bleu
    8:45 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

    Hey just want to point out some room for grammar improvement; I see this often with KSR headlines.
    Look at the headline. That way it’s written is suggesting that Calipari may return to Kentucky. When it’s written this way, the very next word/person mentioned after the comma needs to be the subject of what is stated before the comma.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:15 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      It is very likely that Cal will return to Kentucky. 😉 Don’t stress out about the grammar and writing style here. It will drive you crazy if you let it.

    • Gogh Big Bleu
      9:24 am March 26, 2020 Permalink

      “If Calipari returns to Kentucky, he believes IQ could be PG.” Oh man, what news did I miss?! Haha

  15. Miller45
    1:36 pm March 26, 2020 Permalink

    When is declaration deadline?

  16. Han
    1:39 pm March 26, 2020 Permalink

    Anybody attacking Hagans and saying good riddance, just know that Cal does not like fans like you. You make his job a lot harder, both in recruiting and in teach his current players.

    The loud expectations and harsh criticism from people like you are a big part of the reason guys transfer out and leave us with a short bench.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      6:46 pm March 26, 2020 Permalink

      People shouldn’t brush him off but they shouldn’t have to expect him to act any differently than he has the last 2 years. He’s played really selfishly and almost cost us plenty of games and he has cost us some. If he comes in and puts in the work and becomes a team first player he can be really good but you really can’t blame anyone for being sceptical.

  17. michaelb
    7:55 pm March 26, 2020 Permalink

    What if he’s more affective playing the sharp shooting 2guard role ? I mean he just did have a player of the year type success being a 2