Oh wow, check out this article I just found from February that is almost entirely Kenny Payne speaking about Quickley. If you're not familiar, Just after the new year (1/18/20) Kentucky made Quickley, who had been playing but not starting, a permanent starter when they shifted to a 3 guard lineup, and the team took off like a rocket finishing the last 15 games of the season after the decision 13-2.
We heard Kenny Payne was involved in the selection on draft night, but here is your evidence of his thoughts on IQ (and our hope that he's a steal ready to make that UK Leap™):https://247sports.com/Article/Kentuckys-Quickley-is-talk-of-the-SEC-but-process-started-last-summer-144239434/
Last year, Quickley averaged 5.2 points reaching double figures in SEC play on three occasions. This season, Quickley has topped double figures in all 14 conference games, averaging a team-best 18.4 points. He is shooting 45.6 percent from 3-point range and has made 90 of 99 free throws.
“Just his mental approach from the summer when he first came back,” associate head coach Kenny Payne said Monday. “I think there was an all-star game or a summer league game or something that he played in and people were calling and saying, ‘Wow. He had 40-something in this game against pros. It was against top-level guys and he looked different.’
“Then when he came here there was a different type of swagger about him,” Payne said. “He could handle criticism. He could handle tough coaching, which last year he struggled with. Being able to deal with letting the coach down by not performing to your ability, I think that weighed on him last year, whereas now it’s the only person I have to please is me. I know what I’m doing. I’m comfortable with who I am as a player. I think another part of Immanuel’s growth is his faith in God. It doesn’t get talked about a lot, but he has depended on that when he needed it the most.”
Quickley’s game has matured right along with his personal growth as he moved away from being the team’s point guard.
“It is a huge adjustment just simply from the point of not having the ball in your hands. You lose a little bit of that making decisions,” Payne said. “So you have to adjust your game. The great ones that have come here, the players that have had a lot of success – Jamal Murrays, Isaiah Briscoes – those guys had the ball in their hands so much in high school and the adjustment of playing off of the ball, traditionally it has made them better basketball players. I think Immanuel is a case of that. It’s going to make him – and it has made him – a better basketball, a more well-rounded player.
“What you are watching, his decision-making has come just as far as any part of his game,” Payne said. “Now, is it where it needs to be? No. But, it’s light years ahead of where it was. To be able to beat a person off of the dribble and make a quick decision, whether it’s a lob, a skip pass or shoot it, I think that has come a long way with him.”
In a situation nobody saw coming, Quickley has elevated himself to be the player Kentucky turns to with the game on the line. The coveted “go-to” player.
“I think when you look back over the baskets that we’ve had down the stretch of games, it’s one common denominator. He’s been making big plays and putting that ball in the basket a multitude of ways,” Payne said. “A guy you would start out saying is a catch-and-shoot guy is now beating people off of the dribble, getting into the lane, making floaters, making pull-ups, making tough 2s, layups, along with making 3s.”
Quickley has played his way into serious consideration for SEC Player of the Year.
“Immanuel Quickley, who probably doesn’t get enough credit simply from where he came from to where he is today, unbelievable,” Payne said. “Where he is mentally as opposed to last year where his mind was racing and there was so much doubt, the growth that he’s shown, not just in the shooting and in basketball and making plays, but just mentally of being sure who he is as a player, it’s a long way. He came a long way.”