Arizona Wildcats signee Nico Mannion is one of three finalists for the 2018-2019 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, it was announced Friday morning.
The other two nominees are Memphis signee James Wiseman and junior guard R.J. Hampton, an uncommitted recruit ranked sixth overall in the 2020 class by ESPN.
Relatedly, Mannion was also named the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight season. The award recognizes athletic achievement and off-the-court excellence, of which Mannion has plenty.
The 6-foot-3 point guard led Phoenix’s Pinnacle High School to two straight 6A state championships, while averaging 30.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.8 steals and maintaining a 3.66 GPA.
“A volunteer coach at local youth basketball clinics, Mannion has donated his time to Out of the Darkness Walks for mental health awareness and suicide prevention,” per a Gatorade press release.
“Nico Mannion has no weaknesses at the high school level,” said Dan Peterson, head coach at Chaparral High. “He’s great in transition, he has amazing handles and he can score from anywhere.”
247Sports composite rankings tab Mannion as the No. 10 player in the 2019 recruiting class and No. 2 player at his position. He earned an invite to the famed McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.
The centerpiece of Arizona’s top-ranked recruiting class, Mannion said recently that he had a “great conversation” with UA coach Sean Miller and is “more excited than ever” to be a Wildcat.
Here is some more info on what exactly the Gatorade Player of the Year award is, and how the winner is selected:
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Mannion also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.