By LARRY VAUGHT
Don’t worry about what kind of work ethic Immanuel Quickley will bring with him to Kentucky.
“His work ethic is unbelievable. He puts in so much time in the gym outside of our team practice and other team functions,” said John Carroll (Md.) School coach John Zito, a former Division I player and assistant coach. “He is constantly in the gym. There are times I have almost had to ask him to go home and get out of the gym. He’s on a mission. He knows what he wants from this basketball thing and knows what it takes to get to where he wants to go.”
Maybe that’s why Quickley, regarded as the top point guard in the 2018 recruiting class by some, has not had any problems with the pressure of being a Kentucky signee.
“I think he has handled it really well,” Zito said. “He’s real mature, down to each. His family has done a great job of keeping him level and balanced with all that goes on in his life. He handled the recruiting process well and playing this year for us well.”
He missed about one third of the season early due to illness. Zito said he was the team’s “biggest cheerleader” during that time.
That attitude is why knocks on his outside shooting have not bothered Quickley. Instead, he’s worked to make it better.
“I had him his junior and senior seasons and coming into the job I knew the knock on him and his supposed weakness was his jump shot,” Zito said. “He’s just worked so hard to change that. I never questioned whether he could shoot the ball. Will he knock down shots next year? No question.
“I am not sure how that rumor started about his shooting. Early in his career he just did not shoot a lot. Now that his role changed a little bit, he put more time into his shooting and it shows. If there was something I would say he needed to work on it would not be shooting.”
Since Zito coached at the Division I level for nine years, he knows most freshmen need work on their body/strength because the collegiate game is more physical. Quickley, like a lot of other players, needs to add weight and muscle.
“He’s a tireless worker. Once he gets to Kentucky and gets on a great nutrition plan and has full access to all those resources at Kentucky, he will add the weight. He has a great frame and a 6-8 wingspan. He has thick legs on the bottom but needs to fill out in the hips, and he will in the summer,” the coach said.
Zito said it’s hard to label what kind of player Quickley is because it can change from game to game depending on what was needed by his team. Zito said one game he might have 10 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds.
“You would walk away and say he could really pass the ball,” the coach said.
The next game he might have had 32 points on just 14 shots.
“Then you walk away and say he can really score,” Zito laughed and said. “He can do whatever you ask him to do, which is a huge luxury at the point guard position. You have to watch him a couple of times to see all he brings to the table. He had six 30-point games. He sees the game and reads the game so well.
“Whatever we needed him to do that day, he is doing. He’s just a great leader and a really good kid that others want to play with. It’s easy to like playing with him because he’s getting you the ball in the right places at the right time. That makes him easy to like.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari certainly liked him immediately and made him the point guard priority in the 2018 recruiting class. Quickley obviously felt the love and was an early signee for Kentucky.
“I think they were able to build a good relationship outside of basketball,” Zito said. “I told him to make sure you really get to know the coaching staffs on a personal level outside of basketball. I think that stuck with him the most.
“Obviously coach Cal has every accolade you can think of, so that is the easy part of knowing him. But just getting to know coach Cal and rest of staff was important to him and his family and once they did, they really clicked.”
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