REPORT: Momentum shifting toward NBA for Immanuel Quickley
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REPORT: Momentum shifting toward NBA for Immanuel Quickley

Jack Pilgrimalmost 2 years


Article written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
After optimism picked up last week that Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley was potentially leaning toward returning for a junior season, the momentum is reportedly shifting back the other direction. According to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, it’s now looking like Quickley may “strike while the iron is hot” and enter the NBA Draft. “Having talked to a few folks now who are feeling this way, looks like the pendulum is swinging toward the NBA for Immanuel Quickley,” he said on Twitter. “Still some feedback to be gathered, but there’s a sense that maybe he needs to strike while the iron is hot after an SEC Player of the Year season.” Almost immediately after Kentucky's season came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buzz began circulating that Quickley was strongly considering a return to school, with the possibility of taking over the lead point guard role being an intriguing one. Tucker's interview with Quickley's mother, Nitrease, only added to the speculation, as she confirmed that her son was interested in developing another year in Lexington and getting another opportunity at a national title run.
“Who isn’t thinking it? Man, we didn’t get to finish this. If I come back. And he knows who is coming,” Nitrease said. “The experience of being there a year and developing that leadership was so important, and it only grows. Look at Nick and the phenomenal growth he displayed this year as a junior. Getting a year under your belt at Kentucky is huge, and two years is even better.” [The Athletic]
And then in a video conference with the media last week, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said he would entertain the idea of Quickley taking over the point guard position next season should he return. “He could [play point guard]. He could,” Calipari said. “Jamal Murray did not play but about 15% point guard. I would say Immanuel played 5 or 8% point guard because the other two guys in front of him were better in pick-and-rolls and creating shots for their teammates. They weren’t a shot creator like he was, so the team used that strength and exploited that in him. ... Would we be a better team, him being a point guard on this team coming back? Yes.” Calipari stressed that while Quickley would be a great fit on next year’s roster, he shouldn’t make a decision based on that. He only wants his star guard to make the best decision for himself based on his mental and physical readiness, along with the mastery of his skills. If he feels he’s falling short in any of those three categories, he would certainly applaud a return to school. “That’s not why he should make a decision,” Calipari said. “His decision is, is this the right time? Am I ready to succeed in that league? Am I mentally ready? Which I know he is. Am I physically ready? Yeah. Have I mastered my skills the way I need to? That’s the decision he would have to come back to." This past season, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Havre de Grace, MD made an unprecedented jump as a sophomore, going from averaging 5.2 points in 18.5 minutes per game in year one to 16.1 points in 33 minutes per contest in year two. It was a jump that earned him SEC Player of the Year and All-SEC First Team honors this season. Will Quickley now take his talents to the NBA?

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