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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / May 24.
  • Nico Mannion plans reclassification to 2019, talks top schools

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    INDIANAPOLIS — Nico Mannion, one of the top point guards in the Class of 2020, is planning on reclassifying to 2019 and now says a handful of schools are making him a priority.

    Mannion is the latest high-profile high school guard to talk reclassification, following Kentucky commit Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey, who could also land at Kentucky. Hagans and Maxey are both Class of 2019 guys who are looking to reclass up to 2018.

    “I’m actually thinking about reclassing to 2019,” the 6-foot-3 Mannion said Saturday at the Under Armour stop here where his West Coast Elite team is competing. “I’m going to take college credits this summer so I have the option if I want to.”

    One AAU coach here said Mannion was without a doubt the best point guard in his class and was no doubt ready to head to college a year early. With Mannion at the point, West Coast Elite has lost just one game this spring — on a buzzer-beater to Team Rio.

    “I don’t know if I want to play my senior year in Arizona, it might get boring,” he said of attending Pinnacle High there. “If I’m ready after my junior year, there’s no reason to stay in high school.”

    Yet because Mannion is still in the sophomore class, colleges cannot contact him directly until June 15. Still, he said “they all know it’s a possibility” that he could reclass.

    As of now, Mannion said three schools are working the hardest, including the newly-minted national champions.

    “It’s hard to tell right now because they still can’t call me, until June 15th,” he said. “But as of right now I’d say the schools that are probably working the hardest are Arizona, Marquette, Villanova just got in the mix, I’d say those schools are working the hardest.”

    After offering Mannion a few days ago, Villanova head coach Jay Wright was on hand to watch him Saturday.

    “That was a big offer for me,” Mannion said. “I’m very happy about it, great program, great coaches, they just do things the right way so I was happy to get that one.”

    Some see Mannion as a perfect Villanova fit who could follow in the mold of players like Ryan Arcidiacono, Donte DiVincenzo, Collin Gillespie and Cole Swider.

    “He’s a great team player, makes great decisions, knows how to run a team, fantastic leader and has incredible leadership skills,” West Coast Elite director Ryan Silver said.

    Villanova is also targeting Class of 2019 guys Joe GirardCole Anthony, Bryan Antoine, Scottie Lewis and Josh Green, Mannion’s West Coast Elite teammate.

    “I see myself fitting in pretty well, just the play style,” Mannion said of Villanova. “I feel like I fit their system because they’re all family guys, very team-oriented, very together. I could see myself playing there.”

    Arizona is also heavy in the mix and Mannion has a close relationship with head coach Sean Miller and Mark Phelps.

    “I’m up there pretty often during the season when they have games,” Mannion said. “I go up and watch games. They’ve been great. The way they recruit it’s good. It’s good facilities. I’m close with coach Sean and Coach Phelps.”

    Arizona has obviously been through a lot with the firing of former assistant Book Richardson in the wake of the FBI investigation into college basketball and then the subsequent DeAndre Ayton/Miller report from ESPN this spring.

    Asked if those issues impacted the perception of recruits, Mannion said, “I would say at first it did but everything that’s going on now, they said they’re fine now. I trust them 100 percent, Sean and Phelps, so I’m not worried.”

    Marquette is also in the mix.

    “They’re message is mainly they just let their guards go,” he said. “This year with their two guards they let their guards go. That’s their message to me, let me play my game and be free.”

    USC is also an option.

    “Same thing. I was on campus two weekends ago and they were showing me videos of their point guard, just how much freedom they give him,” Mannion said of USC. “The ball’s always in his hands and he’s the one always making decisions.”

    He may visit the campus again or go to to UCLA on a trip.

    “If I’m close to somewhere, if I’m in California for the weekend, I might go up to UCLA or USC, I don’t know,” he said.

    Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley was also on hand to see Mannion on Saturday. Mannion also said Duke assistant Jon Scheyer has contacted him “three or four times,” and Duke’s Nate James was on hand Saturday.

    Wherever he goes, Mannion believes he will make an impact, whether it’s at the point or of the ball.

    “I’m fine with whatever,” he said. “I’m a point guard. I can play combo but I’d be more interested in playing combo. Wherever i go, I feel like I’ll be able to play so I’m not worried about what point guards are going where.”

    Photo: Under Armour

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.