On Monday, Immanuel Quickley of the University of Kentucky announced he was entering the NBA Draft. A day later he became a basketball champion virtually.
Quickley, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, captured UK’s Hoops at Home NBA 2K20 online tournament title by outlasting a field of 64 competitors that included Kentucky fans, students and alumni.
Quickley defeated fan Scott Overbay in a best-of-three final – even serenading Overbay with his rendition of Whitney Houston’s “One Shining Moment” as his Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It was a great tournament,” Quickley told NBA 2K League reporter Jeff Eisenband after the event. “You even saw me turn the camera off. I had to really lock in and make some adjustments. It was really cool to connect with other people.”
Quickley, a sophomore, led Kentucky to a 15-3 record this season, averaging 18.4 points per game, before the season was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. Aside from working out at home, he admitted he has had a lot of time to brush up on his esports skills.
“I’ve been working out at home, doing pushups, some ballhandling,” Quickley said. “I’m eager to get back in the gym, doing what I love to do.”
Before that happens, Quickley said he might be enticed by another PlayStation 4 matchup against Kentucky alum and Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, who won ESPN’s NBA 2K players’ tournament last Saturday.
“I’m gonna have to tag him on Twitter,” Quickley said after the Twitch.tv telecast. “We’ve got to get something going. I’ve never played Devin. From what I’ve seen, he’s pretty good. You have to respect every opponent. With the practice I put in, I don’t think anybody can beat me.”
Kentucky’s tournament, held in partnership with global gaming organization Gen.G, gave the student body and its fans a chance to connect during the COVID-19 crisis. Kentucky president Eli Capilouto was one of the many who tuned in to the final.
“This platform provides an opportunity to continue to build community and connection among the members of the UK family,” he said.
Chris Burt is the Esports Editor for University Business and LRP Media Group and is the Program Chair of the newly launched Academic Esports Conference and Expo.