There was much anticipation for Immanuel Quickley and his family Wednesday evening as they sat together in New York City, watching the 2020 NBA Draft click off, pick-by-pick.
In many mock drafts, Quickley, who resides in Havre de Grace and is a John Carroll School alum, wasn’t a mention among first round picks and some seem to think he might go in the latter part of round two.
Sometime after 10 p.m., however, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stepped to the mic and announced, with the 25th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder draft Immanuel Quickley from Kentucky.
Quickley, though, won’t be heading west to OKC. Reportedly, Quickley was traded to the New York Knicks, after first being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Regardless, that’s the 25th pick in the first round.
From his Instagram account, Quickley put up a video and appeared nearly speechless.
“Man, this is crazy dog, I don’t even know what to say right now,” Quickley said. “God is so good, God is so great, just appreciate the opportunity, all the people that believed in me. My coaches, friends, family. This is just crazy, this is unbelievable.”
Nitrease Quickley, mother of Immanuel was also on the video. “You got a dream and don’t work toward it?, it’s nothing but a wish, we ain’t into wishes,” she said.
To which Immanuel responded, “That’s one of the reasons why I made it right there, because I got the ultimate mom in my corner, ultimate,” he said.
In his sophomore and final season at Kentucky, he led Kentucky in scoring (16.1 ppg) and had eight 20-point games; he made a team-high 62 three-pointers and shot a UK-best 42.8 percent from beyond the arc; set career highs of 30 points and eight three-pointers at Texas A&M (Feb. 25); posted 22 points in the second half against Florida (Feb. 22); averaged a team-high 19.1 points and made 59.2 percent on threes in UK’s 10 true road games; hit 14-of-14 free throws vs. Mississippi State (Feb. 4), tying the school record for most free throws without a miss; and he won three SEC Player of the Week honors, highlighted by being the first Kentucky player to win back-to-back SEC Player of the Week awards (Feb. 24 and March 2, 2020).
Defense, though, is what upped the stock in his game. Kentucky coach John Calipari was quoted, saying, “He couldn’t guard a year ago. If you remember, he couldn’t stay in front of anyone. Now all of a sudden he became one of our best defenders and he would be in the huddle saying, ‘I got so and so. Let me guard him.’”
C. Milton Wright boys basketball coach Jon Stefanides recalls coaching against Quickley. “You could tell he was a special person the first time we competed against him in the best environment I had seen in a high school game back in 2015. He was calm, smart and a leader on the court despite being only a freshman,” Stefanides said. “Each time we competed against him you could see his hard work paying off as he continued to grow as an athlete and separate himself from others. That work ethic led to his dream coming true last night and I am sure he will continue to work hard to be the best person he can become on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing him play with New York. I couldn’t be happier for Immanuel, his mom Nitrease and his family.”
Stefanides also pointed out what a historic moment it is for Harford County.
In modern times, just four other players with Harford County roots have played in the NBA.
Two, brothers Dudley and Charles ‘Tub’ Bradley of Edgewood, were first round NBA selections, too.
Dudley, a star at North Carolina, was a first round pick in 1979 by the Indiana Pacers, who drafted him with the 13th pick. Dudley played nine NBA seasons with teams from Indiana, Phoenix, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Atlanta.
Younger brother Charles (Wyoming) was a 1981 first round pick of the Boston Celtics. The 23rd pick overall, Charles played in three NBA seasons with Boston and Seattle.
Tommy Davis, a 1981 graduate of Aberdeen High School, played four years at the University of Minnesota, before the Dallas Mavericks selected him in round five, with the 16th pick of the 1985 NBA Draft. Davis became a free agent three months later and spent the next 30 years in France, where he played and coached professional basketball. Davis is credited with one year of NBA service.
Joppatowne boys basketball coach John Brooks played against Davis as an Havre de Grace High athlete in both basketball and football.
Brooks has also played against Quickley in pickup action. “Well deserved. Immanuel put the work in and it’s paying off. It’s been fun watching him mature into a NBA first round pick. Congratulations to him and his family. Enjoy the league,” Brooks said.
Gary Neal, who played three years at Aberdeen and one at Calvert Hall, was signed by the San Antonio Spurs in 2010, after going undrafted and playing two seasons overseas.