COLUMBIA, S.C. — After missing five weeks with a high ankle sprain, the expectations for John Carroll School (Bel Air, MD) point guard Immanuel Quickley were admittedly low, coach John Zito said.
“Get your legs under you. Your wind is probably not going to be there,” Zito told Quickley before the opening round game against Providence Day (N.C.) in the Chick-fil-A Classic. “Just be happy and excited that you’re on the floor in a jersey and not in a sweatsuit on the sideline.”
Quickley exceeded those expectations. . . quickly.
He drained three first-half 3-pointers and scored 24 points in a John Carroll 76-65 victory.
“I’ll be honest. We had zero expectation. This was the first time he’s played in five weeks,” Zito said. “I just wanted him to get out and enjoy the game. He started well, and that set the tone for the team. I’m very pleased with him.”
Quickley adjusted well to the return because of his work ethic while on the proverbial shelf.
“To his credit, he did a lot of work on the bike and on the elliptical while he was hurt,” Zito said. “Him being hurt didn’t affect his work ethic. He’s got a phenomenal work ethic, and being hurt didn’t change that. That’s a credit to him. He did the best he could to keep his conditioning.”
He was hurt on the very first play of the season, off the opening tip. John Carroll won the tip and Quickley drove to the lane for an and-one layin, rolling his ankle in the process. He was out until his the Chick-fil-A Classic started last week.
“It’s certainly nice to have him back out there,” Zito said.
Zito said Quickley’s mere presence makes an impact on the team.
“It relaxes his teammates and gives them comfort. When he started practicing 10 days ago, practice changed tremendously as soon as he stepped on the floor,” he said. “That’s who he is as a person. His teammates have the upmost respect for him as a person. His presence is what makes him so special and his ability to affect his teammates in such a special way.”
Zito is looking for Quickley to make a bigger impact defensively this season.
“Obviously, he’s very talented and gifted offensively. I want him to start become a defensive presence,” he said. “I want him to become a lockdown guy, because he’s very capable athletically.”
John Carroll advanced to the championship game of the Chick-fil-A Classic American Division before falling. Quickley had 11 assists during the tournament, and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul stripe in the title game.
“Great tournament and great competition,” Zito said. “We just want to get a little bit better every day whether it’s a game, a tournament or practice. That’s always the goal.”
Recruiting: Immanuel Quickley's final eight are: Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats, Duke Blue Devils, Miami (Fl) Hurricanes, Providence Friars, Washington Huskies, Virginia Cavaliers and Maryland Terrapins.