From his fine basketball career at John Carroll to his sensational sophomore season at Kentucky, Immanuel Quickley moved one step closer to fulfilling his dream of playing professional basketball when he announced Monday that he was declaring for the 2020 NBA draft.
Last month, the 6-foot-3 guard was named the Southeast Conference Player of the Year after averaging a team-high 16 points in leading the Wildcats to a 25-6 mark and the league’s regular-season championship. The Havre de Grace native, who will turn 21 in June, is back home during the coronavirus pandemic, getting a chance to spend time with family while preparing for the draft.
On Tuesday morning, Quickley talked with The Baltimore Sun about his playing days at John Carroll, his experience at Kentucky and what’s next.
What was it like playing at such a storied program like Kentucky under coach John Calipari?
It was really cool to go to Kentucky. It was kind of like a lifelong dream of mine with all the point guards that have gone there – John Wall, De’Aaron Fox and others that [John Calipari] coached there, so it was really cool to just fulfill that dream and now I’m ready for the next chapter.
What were the key factors in helping you decide this was the time to enter into the NBA draft?
I felt like the college challenge, I finished. I felt like I had a really good year on a really good team that was very successful. So I just feel having met that challenge, having SEC Player of the Year in college, I feel like I’m ready for that next step.
How does it feel to being so close to fulfilling your lifelong dream?
It’s really cool. As a kid when your in class in like the second or third grade, you write about wanting to be a professional NBA player so for me to be able to do this is really cool, like a lifelong dream.
I’ve been working on everything to get better at my craft. I’m a good locker room person, somebody who is going to come in and learn. Basketball-wise I think I can do a little bit of everything. But I’m just working on everything to try to get better each and every day.
What have you been doing back home during the pandemic to prepare for the draft?
Really just been working on everything else but shooting really. Ball-handling, conditioning, push-ups, lifting. Just things like that I can control right now.
How did your time at John Carroll help you get ready for the next level?
John Carroll was really cool. My freshman year, I didn’t really play much, which was kind of like my freshman year at Kentucky. And then my sophomore year at John Carroll I won [All-Metro] Player of the Year, which was kind of like Kentucky this season. So those years were pretty similar, and I think that was a big thing coming out of high school and then going off to college.
In your sophomore year at John Carroll, you hit a memorable 3-pointer at the buzzer of the BCL title game to beat Mount Saint Joseph.How did that shot impact your game moving forward?
I think it kind of like got everything started for me, honestly. With that shot, we won the championship and then we went on to win one more in my senior year in the [Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference], so that shot got everything started and got everything going.
What did you learn about yourself in that pivotal sophomore year?
I learned a lot. I learned I could be kind of like the main guy offensively and I could be a leader as well, somebody who could be a coach on the floor. A coach can’t control everything, so I was just able to become that leader and voice for a team. I took that with me to college and hopefully I can take that into the NBA as well.