By Larry Vaught


If you attend a Kentucky basketball game or even just watch it on television, there’s a good chance you might see one player with his own unique cheering section.

Freshman guard Immanuel Quickley had almost 50 family members and friends take a charter bus from Maryland to Atlanta to watch him play in the McDonald’s All-American Game last spring. When Kentucky went to the Bahamas in August for a four-game exhibition trip, Quickley’s family was also out in full force.

No wonder he already knows what his biggest problem could be this year.

“I don’t know how I am going to get enough tickets for everyone that wants to come,” said Quickley. “I don’t think we can do it because there will be a lot of them wanting to come see Kentucky play. I think I had the biggest family group at the McDonald’s and again in the Bahamas.”

Those family members were decked out in Kentucky gear in Atlanta and again in the Bahamas. Nitrease Quickley, the UK freshman guard’s mother, says that won’t change.

“We all love Kentucky and having Immanuel at Kentucky,” she said. “You can tell that coach Cal (John Calipari) cares about the kids he has chosen to be part of the Kentucky family. He made that clear during recruiting. Coach Cal also takes time for people. He would send Immanuel inspirational quotes and motivational sayings when he was recruiting him. Coach really works at building kids up and we all like that.”

Nitrease Quickley enjoys engaging with fans because she knows the game and appreciates the support for her son. She’s a former player at Morgan State who scored over 1,000 points in high school.

“She was really good in college, too,” Immanuel Quickley said. “That’s all I know … except that she can’t beat me.”

She did coach his basketball team from the time he was 6 years old until he was 10.

“The good thing about that is that I got to take all the shots,” the UK freshman said. “Seriously, I hear all the time what a delightful lady she is. She is an upbeat person, always positive.

“But my mom is definitely not the one who spoils me. My aunt and my grandmother spoil me but my mom is always straight forward and keeps it real with me all the time. Academics, church, basketball, everything.”

Nitrease Quickley wants Kentucky fans to know how much playing for the Cats means to him.

“He loves God and loves his family. I think he’s a really nice kid. He’s a great big brother to his sister Shiloah,” she said.

“I think what makes him really special is he’s a humble kid that knows only a few have been chosen or selected to be a part of Big Blue Nation. I don’t think he takes that invite lightly. He knows he has been blessed and favored with the opportunity that some kids only dream of receiving.”

Quickley’s mother adds, “The past two summers Immanuel has traveled to Spain and Africa representing our nation, so he is no stranger to learning to play with and against the best players in our country. UK fans can look for nothing less than 110 percent effort when he is on the court because he knows the greatest stat is not rebounds, points, nor steals. It’s winning the game.”

“When he plays not only is he capable of scoring, but he is known for making all of the players around him better. Immanuel is a good decision maker and thinker on the court and he just has a knack for finding ways to help his team win.”