LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball could have its first commitment in the Class of 2018 next month. It’s been no secret that 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley loves coach John Calipari and the Wildcats, and now a decision is near.
A 6-foot-3 Maryland native ranked as the No. 3 player at his position and No. 9 prospect overall by Scout.com, Quickley will take official visits on the first three weekends of September — to Kansas, Miami and Kentucky, in that order — and then “sit down with me and his family and make a decision,” Jide Sodipo, one of his closest advisors, told SEC Country. “I expect him to make a decision in September.”
Quickley declared the Cats his leader earlier this summer and nothing has happened to change that.
“In recruiting, anything can happen, but I do believe Kentucky is the leader,” said Sodipo, executive director of Team BBC, Quickley’s Adidas-sponsored AAU squad. “His family likes Kentucky and being coached by Calipari with USA Basketball gave him a chance that most kids don’t get, to really be coached by someone that’s recruiting him.”
Quickley spent three weeks practicing and playing for the Wildcats coach on the U.S. Under-19 World Cup team that took bronze in Egypt last month. He started every game for Calipari and averaged 14.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per 40 minutes, while shooting 43 percent from 3-point range.
Predictably, that experience only improved Kentucky’s position with Quickley.
“I think he enjoyed it, because he’s the kind of kid who loves to be pushed. That’s one thing he took away from it: Cal coaches tough and likes to push you,” Sodipo said. “He’s going to push you to the limit and sometimes you’re going to love him and sometimes you’re not going to like him, but at the end of the day, you’re getting better.
“He really liked that experience, because he’s a kid that likes to learn. He’s like a sponge; he soaks in everything.”
Assuming he picks the Wildcats, Quickley could be the first domino to drop in this class. Kentucky hopes other elite prospects want to play alongside him — such as top-10 recruits Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, two of his friends.
“The kind of young man he is, it’s very easy for a lot of people to want to play with him. He’s so unselfish,” Sodipo said. “He doesn’t mind sacrificing all the points if someone else is doing well. He’s going to make the right basketball play every time, so that attracts a lot of people.
“I know him and Zion have been roommates [on AAU trips] and that’s something they talk about, and I know he’s played with some other guys like Reddish with USA Basketball, and those guys like to play with him.”
But first, the Wildcats have to close the deal. So is there anything Kansas or Miami could do on his official visits — Kentucky notably gets to make the final pitch — to sway Quickley?
“That’s a great question,” Sodipo said. “Everybody just has to focus on what they are about, what their program is about. This is what Miami is about and brings to the table. This is what Kansas is about. Everybody has to talk about themselves, rather than compare to Kentucky.
“The kind of kid he is, that’s what he’s looking for. He’s a very intelligent young man who pays attention to everything. He wants to hear what they have to offer — rather than talking about Kentucky — and he would respect that more than anything.
“He’ll listen to what everyone has to say and then he’s going to make the right decision.”