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Kentucky commit Jayden Quaintance expresses excitement about Kentucky ahead of McDonald’s All American game

Jayden Quaintance. Photo sourced from Instagram: qjay_21

Kentucky five-star commit Jayden Quaintance spoke ahead of the 2024 McDonald’s All American game on Monday, being one of three future Wildcats in the event.

Taking the podium alongside his future teammate Boogie Fland, Quaintance expressed excitement at coming to Lexington and what he believes he can provide head coach John Calipari.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “Kentucky kind of struggled on defense a little bit last year and I feel like defensively we kind of bring a lot of impact that way just being physical and both being shot blockers. Me being able to play passionately and play different positions, I think it’s going to be a fun experience for sure.”

Kentucky men’s basketball commit Jayden Quaintance shoots the basketball during practice for the 2024 McDonald’s All American game on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Houston, Texas. Photo provided by Alex Pennacchia.

Quaintance, called “JQ” by teammates, is the only five star recruit committed to Kentucky in the 2024-25 class according to 247Sports — with all four major recruiting sites listing him as a five star — coming out of Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He picked Kentucky over Missouri in November, with the two SEC programs listed as his final two choices. While the Cats have several other key commits, Quaintance was special for an entirely different reason.

A youngster, JQ turned 16 years old in July of last year and will be just 17 years old by the time his freshman season tips off, making him ineligible to be a one-and-done player as the NBA Draft requires a prospect to be at least 19 years old.

While it’s possible that he could still be a one-and-done at Kentucky before going elsewhere, the possibility of two years with the five-star center has many fans, and likely Calipari himself, very excited at the potential he possesses.

“The goal has always been to improve as much as possible,” Quaintance said. “Trying to develop as much as I can while I’m there. I get the same experience for both years that a lot of players don’t get so it’s definitely an exciting opportunity for sure.”

While many 16 year olds may buckle at the kind of spotlight provided by the McDonald’s All American game, JQ isn’t many 16 year olds.

“I’m just trying to embrace the stage,” he said. “Show off what I can do. I’ve always been a naturally competitive person, I don’t think there’s any pressure, just a big opportunity. I’ve always been competing against older players, I’ve been playing at a private school since I was 14 so I’m already adapted to playing bigger stronger guys.”

The five-star cited his father as one of his biggest helpers in being ready for the brightest lights on one of the highest stages. His father, Haminn Quaintance, played college ball at Jacksonville and Kent State before having a lengthy career all across the world from Israel to Germany to Japan.

“My dad, being ultra competitive, I’ve been playing against him for as long as I can remember,” he said. “Him playing 14 years overseas, he’s always been an influence for me and helped me work on my game and work on little things he thought mattered.”

Taking the court in the 2024 edition of the McDonald’s All American game, JQ will not only join and compete against teammates Fland and Karter Knox, but also numerous other major SEC commits such as Alabama’s Derrion Reid and Aiden Sherrell, Ole Miss’ John Bol, Texas’ Tre Johnson and Auburn’s Tahaad Pettiford.

“This is definitely a great way to prepare for the next stage,” Quaintance said. “All these guys are going D1 (Division-I) and will be playing at the same level I’m at so it’s good to start early and see the players we’re going to be seeing next year. It’s a fun experience getting to compete against the top guys and see where I stack up against everybody.”

The 2024 McDonald’s All American game is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. ET from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, and will air live on EPN2. JQ, Fland and Knox will all represent UK and continue its proud lineage of McDonald’s All Americans.

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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