BEL AIR, Md. -- I must admit I went to the John Carroll High School gym the other night, for the JC-St. Frances boy's basketball showdown, looking to see more of a shooter out of sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley, the early Terps offer playing for Coach Tony Martin at the Bel Air private school power.
While Terps Coach Mark Turgeon scouted Quickley at JC last month during a poor shooting night, well, on this night I was not disappointed.
Quickley, who has moved to the wing after playing the 'one' last year, all to make room for uber-athlete sophomore point guard Junior Farquhar, came out and casually drilled all four of his first four three-point shot attempts as JC went up early and often in the first half.
In the opening half, Quickley was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, while he hit his one other field goal -- a put-back after trailing a teammate and following with a clever rebound and lay-in - while he canned 7 of 7 free throws for 21 points at intermission. I was impressed, as JC led 33-25 and he had 75 percent of their points.
Now, the 6-3 guard would go on to have a quieter second half -- missing all four field goal attempts including one three-pointer - but he did hit four of four free throws as JC kept SFA at bay throughout in the 59-42 win as JC improved to 17-7.
Quickley also had a few rebounds, blocks, steals, assists and a few blown assists, but mostly his role was to work the wing spot and get openings for Farquhar to feed him on the perimeter, while also helping the talented yet green Farquhar with some ball-handling duties.
Quickley has a still-developing body (again, he is just a soph), but has put on a good 10 pounds of bulk/muscle since we last saw him in 2015, and can take the bump and work the lane much better than last season when he was a precocious freshman starting for the first time and sometimes a bit out-matched physically. But his 6-9 wing span is evident on the floor at all times, and a great asset.
But what sets him apart, weight notwithstanding, is his "feel" for the game, his basketball IQ, kinda that old-school game where he anticipates very well and sees the floor and more times than not is a step ahead of a defender.
Now while the jumper was falling, his shot remains something of an enigma, and it will need continued work going forward to the highest level. It is still something of a push/set shot, and his release needs to be quicker, but he did stand toe-to-toe with a smothering SFA defense at times and delivered. At the next level it will be naturally more difficult to get it off against bigger defenders, so he has to tighten and quicken it up more. But it is a true stroke, as three of the treys were all net against SFA.
Quickley has a long and athletic body, and can create his own space/shots. But we would like to see him get a tad bit more athletic laterally when projecting him ahead to the highest collegiate levels, as he is very good but not great in that category yet.
He worked both sides of the floor and the top of the key stroking those first-half bombs, three with defenders in his face or chipping at his arms during his release, so most were contested shots.
Afterwards I remarked to one of his old coaches he reminded me of a slightly lesser athletic/explosive Julius Hodge (maybe even some facially), that kind of combo guard with handles and slashing ability and a shot that can come and go, and he said "good old-school comparison there, Keith."
And Quickley indeed has a lot of old-school smoothness to his game, where he doesn't force things and lets the game come to him. Last year at the point, one could really see that, his 'feel' and cleverness with the ball shining through for a young pup.
Quickley has a lot more pressure to be that consistent shooter for JC this season, now that all-met sharpshooter Kimball McKenzie moved on to Bucknell, where he is getting some good freshman minutes this winter.
The jumper can sometimes come and go for Quickley, but it has definitely improved, as has his confidence, as seen against the Panthers in the lopsided win. Quickley finished the night 5-for-9 from the field, 4-for-5 treys, and a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe, and never got rattled throughout. We would have liked to have seen him assert himself more at the offensive end in the second half, as he was not looking for his jumper as much, but he remained active at the defensive end with his long arms disrupting the passing lanes at times and getting a few deflections to disrupt SFA's flow.
As for the colleges, he grew up a Duke and UNC fan, in addition to Maryland, but at this stage it appears Duke is still the early school to beat. Clearly there is a long way to go yet in his development and recruitment, but he remains a top local prospect that bears intense watching as he continues his growth. And Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson, the latter who has seen him countless times, will indeed be doing that.
Quickley is averaging 19 ppg., 5 rpg, 3 apg, and 2 spg for Coach Martin this season, and he has soared the national rankings in the last year.