Kentucky fans know the deal. Coach John Calipari has revolutionized the way college hoops players are recruited. And over the last 10 years--Cal's tenure to date--Kentucky has cleaned up on 5-star blue chip freshmen.

Kentucky fans also know THIS deal. A majority of those freshmen have departed after just one season. In cases like Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Devin Booker, that was never a surprise. And when we saw those three were ready to go on NBA Day One

In other cases, hindsight is 20/20. In other words, "Man, I wish these kids had stayed at least one more year."

As I noted a few weeks ago, it feels like Kentucky freshmen are beginning to see the value of "one more year."

PJ Washington did.

And so have Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, and Immanuel Quickley. TWO more years in Nick's case.

They have gotten light-years better under the basket (Richards), much more intelligent on defense (Hagans), and much, much better behind the three-point line (Quickley).

And what ABOUT Immanuel Quickley? From December through early February, the improvement was impressive.

But for the past two weeks, he's gone supernova and "impressive" doesn't quite cut it.

First, check out these year-to-year stats (Nick's are also included since his story is also pretty special):

Oh, and let's not forget IQ is shooting a blistering 91% from the free-throw line.

Now...understand that Quickley was playing so out-of-his-mind in UK's 69-60 road win over Texas A&M Tuesday night that he didn't even realize he'd sunk EIGHT triples. He thought MAYBE he'd gotten four.

He helped Kentucky to its best three-point shooting night of the season (11 of them) and put 30 points on the scoreboard, the first UK player in two years (since Shai Gilgous-Alexander in 2018) with a 30-point game.

Kentucky now has TWO on its roster that are on the shortlist of SEC Player of the Year candidates--Quickley and Richards--and will need both of them to be at the tops of their games Saturday afternoon when 15th-ranked Auburn visits Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats are 15-2 since Christmas and their last loss came against Auburn down on the Plains on February 1st.

And now they get the Tigers on February 29th (at 2:45 PM).

Kentucky won't be wanting to bookend February with losses to its newest best conference rival.

Should be a good one.

A certain very humble 20-year-old from Havre de Grace, Maryland could make it a GREAT one.


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