Becoming a professional basketball player may seem impossible. But Northern Maryland native, Immanuel Quickley “quickly” rose to stardom as one of the most important pieces of a rising New York Knick squad, also garnering the nickname “The Floater King” for his efficient use of floaters around the paint.
Quickley was born in Havre de Grace, Maryland on June 17, 1999. His parents, Nitrease Quickley and Marcellous Quickley, raised their family under a Christian lifestyle. Of course, Immanuel thanks his parents for his support and continues his journey as an NBA player.
“I put all my faith and trust in God. My mom, along with the rest of my family, have done a really good job since I was a little child of putting that in me”, says Immanuel (Kentucky Today)
Not everyone was very excited about Immanuel dedicating his craft to just basketball. His father wanted to make sure his son did not prioritize basketball over his love for God. Kyle Tucker from The Athletic puts it best, “Marcellous Quickley has never seen his son play basketball in person until he was featured on television. As a devout member of the Pentecostal church, he has long viewed basketball as a road to perdition — a foolish distraction from the path to salvation at best, a self-edifying gateway to hell at worst”. Quickley still focused on his love for basketball, while remaining humble from God’s work.
Eventually, he went to John Carroll on an athletic scholarship to play high school basketball. Although, Immanuel did not have a great freshman year, he bounced back in his sophomore year where he was finally able to start. He averaged eighteen points per game, four rebounds per game, three assists per game, and two steals per game according to USA Basketball. After having a great second season at John Carroll, Immanuel’s father finally realized that his son was capable of playing basketball at an elite level and being an elite Christian at the same time.
The next year, he improved his game by averaging: twenty-four points per game and seven assists per game. Then for his final campaign at John Carroll, he averaged: twenty-one points per game, seven rebounds per game, seven assists per game, and four steals per game.
Evidently, Quickley improved his defense tremendously and was named MVP of his high school team and earning more honors on the state level. On a national scale, he was named as a member of the McDonald’s All American team that has featured past legends: such as Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony.
After achieving great success at John Carroll, Immanuel knew he had to choose a college that would improve his game. Immanuel was recruited by some of the top D1 schools in the country, including: University of Maryland, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, and University of Miami. (USA Basketball)
He decided to join legendary coach, John Calipari, at the University of Kentucky. Immanuel saw this as an opportunity to enhance his basketball knowledge and pave the way into the NBA. As a true freshman, he mostly sat on the bench while playing behind NBA first round draft pick, Tyler Herro. While doing so, he averaged an abysmal five points per game, two rebounds per game, and one assist per game.
According to YouTube sports researcher, under the name Romp 2.0, he states: “Immanuel admits that he was partying way too much and was not committed to playing great college level basketball”. Quickley knew he had to turn this around as he did not want his father’s precautions about him playing basketball to come true. Just like his freshman year of high school, Quickley reemerged as a college superstar in his sophomore season. Immanuel averaged sixteen points per game and four rebounds per game (Sports Reference College Basketball).
His incredible progression catapulted this young man into the national spotlight. Quickley was named SEC Player of the Year and was named to SEC First Team (USA Basketball). Following this season, he declared for the 2020 NBA draft. He was drafted with the twenty-fifth overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then was traded to the New York Knicks on draft night (Corier Journal).
The young superstar started out the pandemic-ridden season slow, but has catapulted all the way to the top of the rookie report by averaging: twelve points per game, two rebounds per game, and two assists per game while helping the Knicks get to a winning record for the first time in five years. He is shooting at an efficient frequency along the paint and has garnered the floater as his signature shot.
Some may consider Quickley as the steal of the NBA draft, as he is in contention for the Rookie of the Year Award alongside his fellow draftees, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton – who were also lottery picks in this year’s draft. He is living proof that regardless of what people say (including your own family), you can achieve greatness if you believe in your goals.
Demetrius Jones is a staff writer for The Sting. He is an English major at the University of Baltimore