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Immanuel Quickley keeping his name in NBA draft

Immanuel Quickley (Vicky Graff Photo)


Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley announced his plans Monday to submit his name for the 2020 NBA Draft and forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility.

Quickley will head to the professional ranks after becoming one of the best scorers in college basketball in 2019-20. The 2020 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year led the Wildcats with 16.1 points per game and ended the season on a 20-game double-figure scoring streak.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talent to play the game of basketball,” Quickley said. “With God, all things are possible.

“I want to thank coach John Calipari, ‘Coach Cal,’ the entire UK coaching staff and administration, my brothers/teammates, and Big Blue Nation for all your love and support the past two years. I’m grateful for everyone that helped me along my journey.

“It saddens me that my brothers and I were not able to compete for the national championship this year due to circumstances beyond our control. But after praying about it and discussing it with my family, I’ve decided to forgo my remaining eligibility by declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft and signing with an agent.”

Quickley was named an All-American by several outlets after a breakout 2019-20 campaign. The Athletic, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report all tabbed the sophomore guard with All-America Third Team distinction.

“Immanuel was an absolute pleasure to coach over the last two years,” Calipari said. “I had as much fun coaching him and watching him grow than just about any player I’ve ever coached. Like some of our other guys that have gone on and done special things, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro, he absolutely works his tail off. He takes his conditioning seriously, has unbelievable discipline, unwavering faith, confidence and spent just about all of his extra time in that gym.

“His reward: SEC Player of the Year, as voted on by the coaches. I’ve been in this league for 11 years and only had that happen three other times. Think about that with some of the kids we’ve had go through here.

“There’s no question in my mind that his growth in the NBA will be on the same path that it was here, which is steep. He is a wonderful, centered young man who has fought his way to the point of being a first-round draft pick. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on that next level.”

Quickley is the third Kentucky underclassman to declare for the NBA Draft. Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans and freshman guard Tyrese Maxey announced their professional intentions last week.

Quickley was one of the key pieces behind Kentucky’s 25-6 season that included a 9-3 record vs. NCAA quadrant one teams and an SEC regular-season championship.

Quickley’s season will go down as one of the greatest development stories of the Calipari era. The Maryland native played in all 37 games during the 2019 Elite Eight season, but he did so primarily from a reserve role. After starting seven of the first eight games of the season, Quickley came off the bench the rest of the season and averaged 5.2 points per game with 30 3-pointers in 18.5 minutes per game.

One of four key returners on the 2019-20 squad, Quickley was expected to play a much larger role this season, but no one predicted he would be the SEC Player of the Year. He wasn’t picked for any preseason all-conference teams or player of the year watch lists.

Quickley’s steady approach and belief in what coaches call “the process” proved everybody wrong. He scored in double figures in 26 of the 30 games he played in and topped the 20-point plateau in eight. The 6-foot-3 guard made a team-high 62 3-pointers — including making a 3 in 28 games and 11 straight to end the season — and shot a team-high 42.8% from behind the arc after a slow start.

The Maryland native’s 20-game double-figure scoring streak to end the season is the best run since Malik Monk scored in double figures in 30 straight games during the 2016-17 season. During the 20-game stretch, Quickley scored 20 or more points eight times and made three or more 3-pointers seven times, including a career-high eight at Texas A&M.

Quickley won SEC Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks in late February/early March, becoming the first Wildcat in school history to win SEC Player of the Week consecutively (dating back to the 1984-85 season). He won three times total this season.

During the 20-game stretch of scoring in double figures, Quickley averaged 18.6 points to go along with 4.6 rebounds per game and 50 3-pointers while shooting 47.2% from long range. He poured in a career-high 30 points at Texas A&M and sunk a career-best eight 3-pointers to become the first UK player with 30 or more points since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 on Jan. 30, 2018, vs. Vanderbilt. He’s also the first player with back-to-back 25-plus-point games since Monk from Feb. 25-28, 2017. The eight 3s tied Monk, Jamal Murray and Eric Bledsoe for the most 3-pointers in a game during the Calipari era.


What those stats don’t fully reveal is just how clutch Quickley was. He became Kentucky’s go-to scorer late in games, breaking the will of more than a handful of opponents with daggers from beyond the arc and clutch free throws.

Two of the best examples were at LSU and at home vs. Florida. He scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the second half in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which included making all five field-goal attempts and dishing a pair of assists. At home vs. Florida, he scored 22 points in the second half, including 20 of Kentucky’s 28 points when the Wildcats fell behind 40-33. He finished with a game-high 26 points vs. the Gators.

Over the course of UK’s eight-game winning streak in February, in the second half alone, Quickley averaged 14.9 points, shot 56.4% from the field, 57.7% from 3-point range and 93.3% from the charity stripe.

Quickley made 92.3% at the free-throw line, which ranks second in school history, just behind Tyler Herro’s school record set in 2018-19 of 93.5%. That mark ranked first in the SEC and third in the nation. He enjoyed four different stretches of 17 or more consecutive makes (with a high of 24 straight and was 30 of 31 at the free-throw line this season when it was a two-possession game at any point with 3:00 or less to go or the game is in overtime.

Mirroring his even-keel approach, Quickley was Kentucky’s most consistent performer in hostile territory. He averaged a team-best 19.1 points in addition to 4.8 rebounds and 29 3-pointers (on 59.2% shooting) in UK’s 10 true road games.

Quickley was been highly decorated for his 2019-20 campaign:

  • NABC All-District 20 Second Team
  • The Athletic All-America Third Team
  • ESPN’s Breakout Star of 2019-20
  • CBS Sports All-America Third Team
  • Bleacher Report All-America Third Team
  • SEC Player of the Year (Coaches)
  • All-SEC First Team (Associated Press/Coaches)
  • U.S. Basketball Writers Association District IV Player of the Year
  • USBWA All-District IV Team
  • Three-time SEC Player of the Week


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  1. This one makes me sad. Since, it’s not all about me…go be GREAT, IQ!!!!!!

  2. To bad for us UK fans, but I wish him well. He is a fine young man, and forever a UK great.

  3. Didn’t want to hear this, but I wish him all the best. GO CATS!!!

  4. Hagans, Maxey, now Quickley, and probably Richards and Montgomery too! None of these kids are ready for the NBA. They will all languish playing in the G League for 1 to 3 years, most likely only 2 will make an NBA roster, and none of them will have a degree! They are all great kids and can play at the college level, but another year at UK would dramatically improve the odds of Maxey, Quickley and Richards making a roster off the draft and avoiding the purgatory of the G League. Hagans and Montgomery will need time in the G League regardless, so why isn’t anybody telling these kids the truth? We could have had a shot, albeit a somewhat long shot, at No.9 if the tourney had not been cancelled. We would be the overwhelming favorites in 2021 if all 5 of these kids stayed with the program. How does this do justice to these kid or UK?

  5. Would it be great for UK yes. Would it improve draft status of players how knows. Richards had an amazing year but no real movement up the draft.
    Remember these two names. Scotty Thurman and Corliss Williamson. After winning an NCAA championship over Puke they were considered very high 1st round draft picks Corliss was a lottery pick. They both returned but in the Championship came vs UCLA their weakness were exposed. Corliss dropped out of the lottery and Thurman was not drafted in the 1st round. The decision to come back cost those guys millions. Nothing in life is guaranteed especially not success or failure. And there is no failure just because you go to the G league or oversees. As long as you are being the best Human you can be. But as usual those who can’t will criticize.

  6. UKFMLY, it’s obvious that you can’t, so you come here to criticize. The biggest error you have made is that of failing to realize that these UK players don’t have the draft projections that the Razorback kids did. Short of getting hurt, and that is a possibility, all of our kids have much more to gain than lose by staying here another year. I think you don’t have anything else to do but come here and act holier than thou, but I respect your right to do so. Most come here to share their thoughts on the articles presented on VV. You seem to come here to pass judgment on those who do. Excuse me, Your Highness.

    1. The pot calling the Kettle Black. LOL What draft protections are you referring to? Please explain if you can. You have passed judgement on players, coaches and fans alike. If you count the number of post you make and I make in the last two months you would see that you are the one with nothing to do but sit in your momma’s basement and be a troll. Again what protections are you referencing? Thurman and Williamson lost millions ! ! I am sure you are unfamiliar with the term strike while the iron is hot. You are the one who belittles their decision not I. So once again please explain the protections you reference? And thank you for acknowledging that your responses are mere peasantry to mine. ROFLMFAO LONG LIVE THE KING

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