QUICKer than imagined: Immanuel Quickley headed to New York


Kentucky sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley motions to the crowd during the game against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 73-66 clinching the SEC regular season title. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Immanuel Quickley has been selected with the 25th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Technically a slot of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Quickley will instead be headed elsewhere. Reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski say that the Thunder have traded the pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who then flipped it to the New York Knicks. As a result, the second Kentucky player off the board will head to the Big Apple.

The 2020 SEC Player of the Year averaged 16.1 points and 4.2 rebounds as a sophomore. The points were three times the amounts her produced per game as a freshman (5.2), while the rebounds were more than doubled (1.8).

Quickley joins former Cats Kevin Knox, Julius Randle and Kenny Payne in New York. He’ll be playing where Kentucky opened its 2019-2020 season – the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden – in his home games for the foreseeable future.

“An elite shooter with strong scoring instincts. Quickley is an absolute sniper from distance,” the Athletic’s Sam Vecenie said about the guard in his 2020 NBA Draft Guide. “Defensively, Quickley fights and uses his length well. Good and reliable in rotation… Has a 6-foot-8 wingspan that helped him defend more wing-based players.”

Coming in at just 46th in Vecenie’s player rankings, he’s not as polished of a prospect as teammate Tyrese Maxey. He wasn’t projected to go sooner than 38th overall in most notable publication predictions  because of concerns over his limited offensive ability and size.

“Not explosive enough as an athlete nor shifty enough as a ballhandler to get separation from defenders at the college level in isolation… he might be purely a spot-up player who shoots and attacks off of advantage situations,” Vecenie wrote. “Will need to prove that he can handle defensive matchups against the quickest guards in the NBA.”

In an appearance on ESPN after the pick, Coach Cal had no care for concerns on that end of the floor, focusing on what his shooter can provide when he lets it fly.

‘”You’re going to see Immanuel Quickley (pulls arms wide slowly) ‘sssstttttrrrreeeeeetttttcccccchhhhhhh’ the floor for the Knicks.”‘

Quickley may not be the most household name nation-wide, but his shooting ability pushed him to unparalleled heights in the SEC. He may not evolve into a superstar, but if he can be as efficient from behind-the-arc with New York as he was for the Cats in 2019-2020, he could carve out a long NBA career.