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Immanuel Quickley has built his on confidence on offense and defense

Immanuel Quickley (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

John Calipari says it’s no accident that sophomore Immanuel Quickley has become such an effective player this season.

“He’s a confident kid, and what he does, he spends so much time in the gym, he expects to make them (3-point shots),” Calipari said. “If you know you’re not 100 percent, you’re not spending the time you can, you still look in the mirror.

“And if you’re giving 80 percent and then you get in the game and it doesn’t play out for you, you know, he’s — the kid lives in the gym. He’s kind of like Tyler (Herro), he’s like Shai (Gilgeous-) Alexander, those guys. He’s just like them.

“The guy, the energy, he finishes first on every run. He’s built his own (confidence).”

That showed when he overcame an off shooting game (3-for-14) to bury a deep 3-pointer late in the win at Arkansas and had his first double-double by getting 10 rebounds to go with 13 points. And he went 6-for-7 at the foul line.

What’s not as obvious about Quickley is that he’s building that same confidence on defense. He did a terrific job against Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and has carried that momentum into SEC play so well that Calipari no longer has to depend on Ashton Hagans to be the sole perimeter defensive stopper.

“I think the one thing that Cal talks about on the defensive end and our staff really tries to hit on is defensive confidence,” Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said. “That’s something that travels. It should carry over into postseason. It should go from freshman to sophomore to junior to senior, and I think that’s something we teach here a lot is how to do I build my defensive confidence.

“If I’m not making shots, if I’m not playing extremely well or as well as I would think on the offensive end, your defense is based off of your effort. It’s based off of your preparation, and Immanuel is a guy who in his second year has stepped up. He’s a guy that has paid greater attention to multiple positions in our walkthroughs, and I think that’s what you want and you need out of these veteran guys.”

2 comments

  1. Quickley’s has in so many ways has been the difference in UK’s much improved play of late. He has turned into a “dead eye” shooting from long range. He plays good defense too. Staying at UK made a big difference in his game. I am a big fan of IQ.

  2. Immanuel has made as much improvement as Nick has. If these two will stay grounded and focused, they will take this team far. Ashton has stepped up too, but sometimes he tries to do to much. He needs to acknowledge that he has two solid guys to work with now. That may be why Tyrese is struggling. He is used to being the guy, now he has to defer to these guys at times, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute without forcing things or that he should become the forgotten guy. If these 4 can get in sync on both ends of the floor, No. 9 is not out of the question. It would help if EJ and Keion would focus on rebounding and defense and let the offense come to them as it will. Nate is the wild card. Can he get back his confidence that he displayed against Ohio State? If he could be counted on for 3 three pointers and a couple of free throws a game and get better at guarding the pick and roll, that would put us over the top.

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