Nico Mannion, one of the most highly sought point guards in the 2019 recruiting class, announced his commitment to the Arizona Wildcats on Friday.
Here are 6 things you need to know about the 5-star guard out of Phoenix:
1) He has a well-rounded skill set
The Wildcats have had point guards that can score and point guards that can pass under Sean Miller. Rarely have they had guys who can do both.
This, per Slam Magazine:
Mannion is quick and athletic with the ball and boasts the sort of court awareness you’d expect from the son of a 20-year pro. Says his coach, “You see lot of kids at this level who can only score, but he’s at a high level in every part of his game. He’s OK scoring 35 if he has to, but he’s also OK giving up the ball. He can change his game whenever he needs to, and whatever part of his game people think they can stop, that’s what he works on.
2) His father played in the NBA
Mannion is the son of Pace Mannion, who played in the NBA from 1983-89.
Pace Mannion was a journeyman during his time in the league as he had stints with the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
A shooting guard from Salt Lake City, Pace Mannion also played professionally in Italy. During his NBA career, spent mostly as a reserve, he averaged 3.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
His mother was also a professional softball player in Italy.
3) Mannion reclassified to the 2019 class from 2020
In July of 2018, Mannion announced his reclassification to the 2019 class from the 2020 class.
After much thought with my family and coaches, I have decided to reclassify up to 2019. Looking forward to a great senior year!! pic.twitter.com/gHuNbMQPIi— niccolo (@niccolomannion) July 20, 2018
With his reclassification to the 2019 class, he becomes the first 5-star recruit to commit to Arizona since the FBI’s investigation into the sport came to light last year.
4) Sports Illustrated profiled Mannion as a freshman
Chris Ballard, one of the best basketball writers in the profession, profiled Mannion when the phenom point guard prep prospect was 15.
The piece is a must-read and includes anecdotes such as his middle school coach saying the Mannion looked like an “NBA lottery pick.”
5) Mannion has played for the Italian national team
Mannion has already appeared on the world stage for basketball, debuting for the Italian national team this summer at the World Cup qualifiers.
He was the fourth youngest player ever to don the Italian national team jersey and scored 9 points against the Netherlands in his debut.
“Unbelievable. During the national anthem and before the game I was very excited and then from the jump-ball I thought only about playing well,” Mannion said, per FIBA.
”I had fun and it was a fantastic and very useful experience. This is a great group, they helped me from the first day and coach (Meo) Sacchetti was great. I learned a lot and there’s a lot more I have to learn but it’s been a really unforgettable two weeks for me. It was an honor.”
6) He got his first scholarship offer in eighth grade
When Mannion was in his final year of middle school, he received his first college scholarship offer from Cal State-Northridge.
His dad handed him a cellphone on the way back from practice, and the voice on the other end was Cal State–Northridge coach Reggie Theus, who said he just knew that Nico was going to be his kind of player, and that he wanted to make him a scholarship offer right there, on the phone, without even seeing him in person, because that way Nico would always remember that it was Theus, a former NBA star, who offered first, way before all the big schools. And upon hearing this, Nico freaked out a bit but tried to look supercool, because one of his teammates was in the car and, besides, that’s what you do when you’re a real baller. That night his parents reminded him that the road before him was long, saying, “Be proud, enjoy it for an hour or two, then get your head right and keep working.”
Mannion obviously ended up with countless offers. His final two was Arizona and Marquette, with Arizona widely being considered the favorite early on for Mannion.