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Immanuel Quickley’s work ethic pushes Ashton Hagans to get better

Immanuel Quickley (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

John Calipari isn’t sure whether Ashton Hagans or Immanuel Quickley will be Kentucky’s best point guards. He’s just glad to have them both.

“They’re both going to play. They’re both a little bit different, but both really effective. And both are really getting better,” Calipari said Thursday as UK gets set to play Transylvania Friday night.

He admitted the played them together in practice Wednesday — the first time he had done that recently.

“You gotta do this – what we’re doing scrimmaging every day and we’re going with Transy, we’re going with IUP – and then around those games we’re scrimmaging just so we can get some sort of rotation and feel. How are they playing when there are people in there?” Calipari said.

He said some players perform back in game situations that are on TV and have fans in the stands. He noted how EJ Montgomery and Reid Travis played their best in the Blue-White Game Sunday night.

“I liked it because there were people in the seats and it was national television. How you gonna play now? And those two have stepped up. But Nick (Richards) played well. PJ (Washington) played well in the second half. PJ’s first half was a struggle. Who’d he go against? He went against Reid and he got chested about 10 times on his drive,” Calipari said.

“Then you see him like yesterday when I put the three bigs in together. All the sudden he has his way and it’s easy. OK, now you’re going against Reid again, now it’s hard again. You’re going against a grown man it’s a little different.”

Hagans said there is one thing him and Quickley both really like.

“We both love playing defense and we can get ours on the offensive end. He (Calipari)  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,” Hagans said Thursday.

Quickley makes Hagans have to get better daily.

“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,” Hagans said.

Hagans said starting is not important. Playing well is what matters to both him and Quickley.

“If you’re doing what he (Calipari) needs you to do, he’s going to put you in regardless. We’ve got a good team. Regardless of the points or the stats, really, none of that matters. Just leave everything and play your role, and you’re going to be good,” Hagans said.

“We all try not to look at the playing time. We just try to go out there, the teams Cal put together at practice, we just go out there and try to compete. We’re all going to try to fight for the starting spot when that time comes. But for right now, we’re just out there competing.”

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