Three top Class of 2021 point guards make moves during busy week

photo by: Journal-World illustration

University of Kansas basketball recruiting

It was a busy week for point guards in the 2021 recruiting class, with one top prospect coming off the board and two others including Kansas while trimming their lists of finalists.

Nolan Hickman, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound from Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, committed to Kentucky on Saturday.

The four-star guard who is originally from the Seattle area, is ranked No. 76 overall in the 2021 class by Rivals.com and was also considering KU, Arizona and UCLA. His connection to Kentucky was not widely known until he pulled the trigger on his commitment.

Hickman became the first player in the 2021 class to commit to John Calipari’s Wildcats and, like always, UK figures to be in the mix for several other top targets as well.

One of them is five-star talent Hunter Sallis, from Omaha, Neb., who cut his list of suitors to 12 on Sunday evening.

Both Kansas and Kentucky are on the 12-school list, joining Michigan, Oregon, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Auburn, Iowa State, Alabama, Creighton, Louisville and UCLA.

Interestingly enough, the hometown Creighton Blue Jays made the most recent cut for the 6-5, 175-pound point guard from Omaha’s Millard North High while in-state Nebraska did not.

Rivals ranks Sallis No. 11 overall in the 2021 class, and he is listed as the No. 2 point guard in the class behind Sunrise Christian Academy’s Kennedy Chandler, who is ranked No. 10 overall and recently committed to Tennessee.

The Jayhawks area also still alive in the hunt for third-ranked point guard JD Davison (No. 15 overall), who trimmed his list to a final six last week — KU, Auburn, Alabama, Michigan, LSU and Memphis.

While the Jayhawks have added a bunch of versatile wing pieces in the past couple of classes — Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Tyon Grant-Foster, Bryce Thompson and K.J. Adams — the coaching staff continues to prioritize the point guard position in the 2021 class because of KU’s desired style of play.

KU coach Bill Self has always preferred to have multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time, and that approach makes it entirely possible for the Jayhawks to keep two, three or even four true point guards on the roster at any given time.

Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Jayhawks have senior Marcus Garrett and redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris pencilled in as their top point guards.

Braun and Thompson also can initiate offense and handle the ball, but those two are equally as effective off the ball, as well.

Garrett’s departure following the 2020-21 season and the versatility of those other players would create plenty of opportunity for any incoming point guard to have an immediate impact at Kansas. That’s especially true for top-15 talents like Sallis and Davison.

Both recruitments are worth watching closely, both because of their elite talent and the fact that Sallis and Davison are just two of the five 2021 point guards still available on Rivals’ list of the top 25 point guards in the current recruiting class.

Twenty others already have given verbal commitments to their schools of choice.

Four-star prospects Carter Whitt (No. 10 point guard, No. 62 overall), Ty Ty Washington Jr. (No. 17 point guard, No. 99 overall) and Wade Taylor (No. 20 point guard, No. 111 overall) are the three other point guards who are undecided on Rivals’ list of the top 25 players at the position.

But, according to the Rivals database, KU is not currently listed as being involved with that trio.

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