2021 five-star guard Hunter Sallis is down to eight schools, with the Kentucky Wildcats included among the remaining finalists.
Sallis, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Omaha, Neb., is now considering Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas, UCLA, Creighton and Oregon. The five-star prospect has cut Auburn, Alabama, Louisville and Michigan from contention.
— Hunter $allis (@HunterSallis_) November 16, 2020
Considered the No. 6 overall player and No. 1 point guard in the Rivals recruiting rankings, Sallis received an official scholarship offer from Kentucky back on Aug. 21, with momentum quickly shifting in UK’s favor not long after. The Wildcats have picked up four consecutive Crystal Ball picks over at 247Sports and four FutureCasts at Rivals.
Back in October, Sallis told KSR that a handful of programs were prioritizing him the most at this point in time, headlined by Kentucky.
“I feel like Kentucky is one of them, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Oregon, North Carolina really is, Kansas, and there are a couple more,” Sallis told KSR. “Those are the schools that are showing them they really want me and they have a really big interest in me.”
So what is it about the Wildcats that has piqued the 6-foot-5 guard’s interest?
UK’s versatile system that allows its guards to play both on- and off-ball, one that doesn’t have a single true point guard.
“I could see myself playing both [guard positions], especially in a system like Kentucky,” Sallis said. “We’ve been watching, there’s not really one designated point guard, one of the guards just gets the ball and they just run. That’s a system I feel like I could fit in well because I could have the ball and I could also be without it. Coach Joel [Justus] told me those are the types of guards that they recruit, the really versatile ones. I feel like it’s a good fit.”
“Hunter has told me, and he told me early, that he likes their style of play,” Sallis’ high school coach Tim Cannon added. “I think he looks at [UK] being a good school, along with their style of play. He definitely wants to play in the NBA, but that’s not the only thing. He wants to go to a Final Four also. He’s got a lot of things in mind, and he knows Kentucky is a good spot for those things.”
Kentucky – led by assistant coach Joel Justus – is using that as a direct pitch to the versatile prospect, comparing Sallis to players like Jamal Murray who have thrived playing both guard positions both in Lexington and in the NBA.
“Part of their pitch is that they play such a fast-paced game with a lot of perimeter players, and he likes that style of play where it’s very guard-oriented,” Cannon told KSR. “It’s a lot of guards, a lot of fast breaks. Now, I think a lot of people play that way, but [Hunter] did say specifically that he really likes that style of offense and the ability to fast break, not have things clogged up in the middle, stuff like that. He definitely likes their style of play.”
“They were just saying I was an underrated passer, that I can really pass,” Sallis added. “Really versatile, can score, play defense. They like the way I defend, they said they don’t recruit kids who can’t defend, so little stuff like that.”
As for a timeline on a decision, Sallis tells KSR that he is planning to commit in the spring in hopes of in-person recruiting opening back up in the coming months.
“As of right now, I’m planning on deciding in the spring,” he said. “As of right now, I doubt [I’ll sign in the fall], just because we want to get out and see places. We’re praying they start opening things back up.“
With Millard North High School hosting its signing day celebration last week and the early signing period set to close on Nov. 18, Cannon confirmed with KSR that Sallis is not planning on a commitment this week.
Now, the wait continues.