UK Men's Basketball

UK’s top point guard target Quickley nears college decision, and Cats are looking good

Immanuel Quickley not afraid of crowded backcourt at Kentucky

Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley talks from Team USA camp about his recruitment, John Calipari and UK's backcourt.
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Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley talks from Team USA camp about his recruitment, John Calipari and UK's backcourt.

For the majority of the top high school basketball prospects in the class of 2018, it’s still relatively early in the recruiting process.

Many of them are still picking up scholarship offers from big-name programs and have yet to cut their school lists to a manageable number. There are coaches they need to get to know better and campuses they’ve never seen.

As his peers continue to wade through that process, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is nearing a college decision.

The 6-foot-3 prospect from the Baltimore area is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 10 overall player in the 2018 class. He’s already cut his list to UK, Kansas, Maryland and Miami, and he’s adamant that he will reveal his college choice before the start of his senior season.

Recruiting analysts think they know where he’s most likely to end up.

“I think Kentucky is definitely the team to beat for Immanuel Quickley,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader last week.

Asked if he saw another one of Quickley’s finalists as the Cats’ top competition, Daniels didn’t hesitate. “Not really,” he said.

Quickley is here this week for John Calipari’s Team USA U19 training camp, one of the younger prospects at this series of practices that will determine the 12 players who represent the country at the FIBA World Cup in Egypt next month.

While not acknowledging any one favorite in his recruitment, Quickley’s answers to questions about what he’s seeking in a school expressed nothing but positivity toward the Wildcats’ chances.

The first attribute Quickley said he’s looking for in a college is the relationship with the coaching staff.

Earlier in the interview, he spoke of his positive relationship with Calipari and the rest of the UK assistants, noting that this training camp experience is an advantage for the Wildcats coach.

“This is the first time I’ve actually had basketball instruction that will be from him. So it’s going to be different,” Quickley said. “Just being able to talk to Cal, getting to pick his brain, on and off the floor, I think that’s an advantage.”

Quickley said he’d also be looking for a school that has a good track record with getting point guards to the NBA. Nobody’s had more recent success in that department than UK’s coach.

“I think that’s been a big part of why I like them,” Quickley said.

The feeling is clearly mutual.

Quickley was the first point guard from the class of 2018 to receive a scholarship offer from UK, and Calipari doesn’t take such offers lightly when it comes to zeroing in on his next great point guard.

UK assistant coach Joel Justus has been in regular contact with Quickley for more than a year, and Calipari and his other assistants have seen him play plenty on the Adidas circuit so far this spring. College coaches are permitted to attend this week’s U19 training camp and watch from the sidelines, and UK assistant Tony Barbee was one of several in the gym for Sunday night’s session opener.

Coaches from Kansas and Miami made it to town Monday morning.

Quickley was here last summer for U17 training camp. He made that team and went on to win a FIBA gold medal in Spain. He averaged 23.7 points and 7.2 assists per game as a high school junior, and he’s shown an improved outside shot, a continued attention to detail on defense and boasts a high basketball IQ for a point guard still in the early stages of his career.

“I just love Quickley’s approach to the game,” Daniels said. “He competes on both ends of the floor. He’s a two-way player. He’s improving as a shooter. … I just love his demeanor.”

Quickley talked about doing the “little things” to make this U19 team — “hustle plays, boxing out, taking charges, stuff like that,” he said — something Calipari would surely love to hear. He also said he won’t hesitate to join a college program that has other good players at his position. Freshmen point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both projected as multi-year players at UK.

Quickley’s goal this week is to show he belongs at this level. In the process, Calipari will get to see what he looks like when surrounded by other young talents.

“I just want to prove that I can play with other great players,” Quickley said. “AAU team, high school team, I’m pretty much the main guy. But playing with USA Basketball, you have to come together in a short amount of time to accomplish one goal.”

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