A commitment seemingly months in the making is finally a reality: five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley will be a Kentucky Wildcat.
Quickley — a 6-foot-3 prospect from Bel Air, Md. — announced his commitment to UK on Friday night, becoming the Cats’ first pledge for the recruiting class of 2018.
It was hardly a surprise.
Quickley, who became the first point guard in the 2018 class to land a UK scholarship offer more than a year ago, has long praised John Calipari and the Wildcats’ program, and he played on the UK coach’s USA Basketball U19 team over the summer.
It was around that time that Quickley publicly declared Kentucky as his top school.
“I just picked Kentucky because of what Coach Cal has done with his point guards and what he’s done putting players like myself in situations to be in the NBA, it’s just crazy,” Quickley told Scout.com. “If you work hard and listen to what he says then he’ll put you in position to be there one day.”
Kansas and Miami were also finalists.
The Cats are getting the No. 8 overall player in the Scout.com rankings for 2018.
“I think Quickley — especially at the end of the summer — looked tremendous,” Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “I was really impressed with his maturity as a player. I think he’s a tremendous passer. I think he’s really good in pick-and-roll situations. I think he’s got a lot of potential as a defender. This is a pass-first guard, but he’s also really improved as a shot maker from distance, especially off the catch.”
Quickley averaged 23.7 points and 7.2 assists per game as a junior at John Carroll School (Md.) last season. He averaged 6.7 points and 2.4 assists in 18.3 minutes per game for Calipari’s USA Basketball team in July, shooting 43 percent from three-point range.
The improved shooting has been apparent in Quickley’s game this season. He was noticeably more comfortable shooting the ball from deep range during his time on the Adidas circuit and at various camp stops across the country, including Calipari’s USA training camp in Colorado Springs in June.
In all, Quickley spent more than three weeks being coached by Calipari over the summer.
“I think you definitely get closer to somebody that you spend almost a month with, especially going overseas. So I got to know him quite well,” Quickley told the Herald-Leader after returning home from the USA Basketball trip. “I definitely think it helped their cause, me getting to spend time with him.
“I got to see how he coaches his point guards one on one. Just to see how he does that and be able to be a part of that is really cool.”
Quickley could be joining a crowded UK backcourt for the 2018-19 season.
Five-star point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be freshmen on the Wildcats’ squad this season, and neither player is projected as a one-and-done NBA Draft pick, meaning both are likely to return to Lexington a year from now.
Quickley has told the Herald-Leader in the past that he has no problem sharing the ball with players of that caliber. It’s also unlikely, however, that he would cede the starting point guard spot to any returning player.
“I think the biggest thing about Immanuel Quickley is he’s not scared of anyone,” Daniels said. “In terms of Quade or Shai, I think that Immanuel Quickley is a guard that’s competitive and expects to find his way onto the court. Now, could he play with other point guards? Certainly, and I think his improvement as a shooter helps that. But this is a guy who’s at his best when he has the ball in his hands.”