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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is first 2018 Cats commit

Immanuel Quickley-commit-Kentucky-UK-Kentucky recruiting-UK recruiting-John Calipari-Zion Williamson

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The first domino has fallen in Kentucky basketball’s 2018 recruiting class, and it’s a big one: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley committed to the Wildcats during a ceremony at his high school in Maryland on Friday night.

With a drum beat from the band and a slow clap from the crowd to build whatever suspense there was for a guy who has been considered a Kentucky lean for months, Quickley removed his jacket and unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal a UK uniform.

He became the ninth 5-star point guard to pick the Cats since coach John Calipari took over in 2009, following in the footsteps of (oldest to newest) John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Quade Green.

“That’s tough living up to such an unbelievable legacy that Calipari has built there,” said Andrew Slater, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “I don’t want to say names, but he’s certainly better than some of them. And he’s at least within the realm of the others. Let’s just say he’s not going to set the program back at all.”

In fact, Quickley jumping on board as the Wildcats’ first pledge in this class could help them land others — and soon. Rated the No. 8 overall prospect and No. 2 point guard nationally by the 247 Composite, he took his official visit to Kentucky last week with 5-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson. The two played pickup and worked out together and, sources tell SEC Country, really hit it off.

Bigger still: Quickley and 5-star small forward Zion Williamson — who began his official visit to UK on Friday night, coincidentally — are close friends who’ve openly discussed a desire to play together in college. And Williamson’s recruitment could be wrapping up sooner than later.

“Most college coaches would prefer to get a point guard first, because it sort of sets the tone,” Slater said. “They can point to him and say, ‘Look, this is the guy who is going to get you the ball.’ Point guards are usually very vocal and good leaders. Immanuel has a really good heart, which attracts people to him. He’s an excellent player, but he’s not egotistical. He’s able to let other guys shine. I think that may have attracted Zion to him.”

And what attracted Quickley to Kentucky? It helped that they spent three weeks together this summer at the under-19 FIBA World Cup in Egypt, where Quickley started for the Calipari-coached Team USA and averaged 14.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per 40 minutes. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

Quickley’s mentor and AAU director, Jide Sodipo, called him a gym rat: “Immanuel could go to the moon and find a basketball gym so he could work out.”

But what about his game? Slater has evaluated him at several events over the years and broke it down for SEC Country.

Strengths: “Immanuel brings very good size. He’s got excellent court vision. He’s an improved 3-point shooter. He’s a better defensive rebounder than he ever was, where he uses that length that he has to clog the passing lanes. He’s an improving penetrator. His perimeter shot overall has improved and that’s taken his game to another level now, turned him into that sort of top-10 type of player.

Room to grow: “He could tighten his handle up a little bit, his mid-range shot needs some work and he could add some upper-body strength because of that penetration. You’re going to get hit every time you go through the lane. I think he could also benefit from staying aggressive throughout the game — or from game to game. He could go for 30-plus one game and 13 the next. If he can maintain that level of excellence, he could ultimately end up a lottery pick.”

Three of Calipari’s previous UK point guards have gone in the lottery (seven total drafted), not to mention Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis. The Wildcats hope he’s next.

Calipari’s 5-star Kentucky PGs 

2018 — Immanuel Quickley

2017 — Quade Green

2016 — De’Aaron Fox

2015 — Isaiah Briscoe

2014 — Tyler Ulis

2013 — Andrew Harrison

2011 — Marquis Teague

2010 — Brandon Knight

2009 — John Wall

The post Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is first 2018 Cats commit appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is first 2018 Cats commit

UK basketball-Kentucky basketball-Kentucky recruiting-UK recruiting-Immanuel Quickly-John Calipari-2018-Zion Williamson-commit-package deal

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The first domino has fallen in Kentucky basketball’s 2018 recruiting class, and it’s a big one: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley committed to the Wildcats during a ceremony at his high school in Maryland on Friday night.

With a drum beat from the band and a slow clap from the crowd to build whatever suspense there was for a guy who has been considered a Kentucky lean for months, Quickley removed his jacket and unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal a UK uniform.

He became the ninth 5-star point guard to pick the Cats since coach John Calipari took over in 2009, following in the footsteps of (oldest to newest) John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Quade Green.

“That’s tough living up to such an unbelievable legacy that Calipari has built there,” said Andrew Slater, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “I don’t want to say names, but he’s certainly better than some of them. And he’s at least within the realm of the others. Let’s just say he’s not going to set the program back at all.”

In fact, Quickley jumping on board as the Wildcats’ first pledge in this class could help them land others — and soon. Rated the No. 8 overall prospect and No. 2 point guard nationally by the 247 Composite, he took his official visit to Kentucky last week with 5-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson. The two played pickup and worked out together and, sources tell SEC Country, really hit it off.

Bigger still: Quickley and 5-star small forward Zion Williamson — who began his official visit to UK on Friday night, coincidentally — are close friends who’ve openly discussed a desire to play together in college. And Williamson’s recruitment could be wrapping up sooner than later.

“Most college coaches would prefer to get a point guard first, because it sort of sets the tone,” Slater said. “They can point to him and say, ‘Look, this is the guy who is going to get you the ball.’ Point guards are usually very vocal and good leaders. Immanuel has a really good heart, which attracts people to him. He’s an excellent player, but he’s not egotistical. He’s able to let other guys shine. I think that may have attracted Zion to him.”

And what attracted Quickley to Kentucky? It helped that they spent three weeks together this summer at the under-19 FIBA World Cup in Egypt, where Quickley started for the Calipari-coached Team USA and averaged 14.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per 40 minutes. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

Quickley’s mentor and AAU director, Jide Sodipo, called him a gym rat: “Immanuel could go to the moon and find a basketball gym so he could work out.”

But what about his game? Slater has evaluated him at several events over the years and broke it down for SEC Country.

Strengths: “Immanuel brings very good size. He’s got excellent court vision. He’s an improved 3-point shooter. He’s a better defensive rebounder than he ever was, where he uses that length that he has to clog the passing lanes. He’s an improving penetrator. His perimeter shot overall has improved and that’s taken his game to another level now, turned him into that sort of top-10 type of player.

Room to grow: “He could tighten his handle up a little bit, his mid-range shot needs some work and he could add some upper-body strength because of that penetration. You’re going to get hit every time you go through the lane. I think he could also benefit from staying aggressive throughout the game — or from game to game. He could go for 30-plus one game and 13 the next. If he can maintain that level of excellence, he could ultimately end up a lottery pick.”

Three of Calipari’s previous UK point guards have gone in the lottery (seven total drafted), not to mention Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis. The Wildcats hope he’s next.

5-STAR POINT GUARDS UNDER CALIPARI

2018 — Immanuel Quickley

2017 — Quade Green

2016 — De’Aaron Fox

2015 — Isaiah Briscoe

2014 — Tyler Ulis

2013 — Andrew Harrison

2011 — Marquis Teague

2010 — Brandon Knight

2009 — John Wall

The post Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is first 2018 Cats commit appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star PG Immanuel Quickley’s advisor recaps official visit

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball hosted a pair of 5-star guards for official visits over the weekend, one of them a Wildcats lean and the other a bit of a long shot, and the two spent some important time together. Point guard Immanuel Quickley (the lean) and Keldon Johnson (the long shot) played pickup and worked out together while on UK’s campus, Quickley’s advisor told SEC Country.

“They definitely hung out together,” Jide Sodipo said. “They went over there by themselves and worked out. They both seem to be gym rats, so they were asking the manager what time they could get into the gym to work out. Immanuel could go to the moon and find a basketball gym so he could work out.”

Sodipo, executive director of Quickley’s AAU team, couldn’t say whether Johnson was swayed by their time together. But Sodipo accompanied Quickley, his mother and grandfather on the trip to Lexington and recapped their visit.

“It went good. That’s not the first time going [Quickley attended Big Blue Madness last October] but the official visit is to get a better feel for the school overall, outside of basketball, the academic part and stuff like that,” Sodipo said. “They asked a lot of questions. The mom, being an educator [high school English teacher], her main thing with Kentucky or any school recruiting him is that aspect: the academic support, the classroom, what kind of major most of the basketball players have, what the plan is for when they travel and get back. Is the scholarship a lifetime scholarship?

“She’s focused on that and she’s asking questions about that. I think she got more than enough information to go with. The plan was after the official visit to sit down — she took a lot of notes — and go over everything. I believe she got most of her questions answered.”

RELATED: Quickley’s advisor says plainly, ‘Kentucky is the leader’

It’s worth noting that UK coach John Calipari offers lifetime scholarships, meaning his many one-and-dones can come back and finish their degrees for free at any time, and the Wildcats have been a top program nationally in Academic Progress Rate since he took over in 2009.

Kentucky has long been considered the favorite (by a wide margin) to land Quickley, a 6-foot-3 Maryland native ranked No. 8 overall and the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2018 by the 247Sports Composite. Even so, he took an official visit to Kansas on Sept. 1 and was scheduled to visit Miami the following week before Hurricane Irma scuttled that plan.

“Miami is trying to figure it out” and reschedule a trip for Quickley, Sodipo said. “There’s no final decision yet. Basically, we’re going to give everyone like 48 hours and see if something can be worked out. I know he’s going to make a decision before high school basketball starts. He could wake up today and say, ‘I’ve seen everything. I want to make a decision.’ But he might also say, ‘Whether I want to go there or not, I should at least give Miami that [visit]. That’s still up in the air.”

Either way, Quickley’s commitment is not far off and it would be a surprise to see him pick anyone other than the Wildcats — who will host his good friend and potential package-deal partner Zion Williamson for an official visit this weekend.

The post Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star PG Immanuel Quickley’s advisor recaps official visit appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country