Just when you think Immanuel Quickley’s bag of tricks is empty, he finds a way to exceed expectations in a major way.
Three days after setting a career high of 26 points against Florida, Quickley filled it up in College Station to the tune of 30 points. This was the first 30 point performance since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander against Vanderbilt in an overtime win in 2018. Kevin Knox scored 34 the game before that against West Virginia, and that was the last time a player scored 30+ in regulation.
Quickley has been incredible as of late, and really took it to another level against Texas A&M on Saturday. He was 8/12 from behind the three-point line, shot 58% from the floor, and scored 30 points on the night without attempting a single free throw. It was great timing for the big game, as Kentucky’s other All-American candidate, Nick Richards, struggled and only put up four points.
After the win, Quickley talked about his development and how his decision to go to Kentucky has made all of the difference in where he is today.
“You come here to work,” Quickley said as he walked off the court. “If you just want to come shoot a couple of balls and leave after one or two years, that’s not why you come here. You come here to develop and I’m so glad I came here. It’s one of the best decisions of my life.”
While I am sure he was not taking shots at former players, this certainly makes you think about guys in the recent and not so recent past that moved on from Kentucky without giving themselves a chance to grow. While some of those guys have done okay for themselves, not of them are playing in NBA All-Star games.
Between PJ Washington in his second year, Junior Nick Richards, and SEC Player of the Year favorite Immanuel Quickley, the one-and-done image that Kentucky has developed over the years is slowly shifting. If recruits can buy into the fact that it may take two or three years for them to get where they want to be, that could change the entire trajectory of the program and the talent they put on the court every year.
In the post game interview, Quickley raved about how Coach John Calipari truly wants the best for his players. “That’s why you come to Kentucky,” he said. Your move, remaining stars of the 2020 class.