On Friday night, I was sitting comfortably at Valley Fields, watching Marquette play Penn, occasionally glancing at Twitter for updates from the #25 Marquette vs #10 USC volleyball match.
Early-ish in the first half, this suddenly popped into view.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Nico Mannion, the top point guard in the 2019 recruiting class, announcing that he is going to attend either Arizona or Marquette. Mannion has dumped Duke and Villanova from his final four, leaving him with either the home state Wildcats or our very own Golden Eagles.
I’m not going to lie to you: It’s pretty fun when a prospect tells Duke and Villanova to take a hike in favor of Marquette.
247 Sports currently has Mannion ranked as the #15 player in the Class of 2019. As mentioned a moment ago, he’s the best point guard in the country as well as the best prospect in the state of Arizona. As you can tell, this is a pretty big deal that Marquette has gotten to this point with him.
The argument can be made that Mannion had this decision made for him as opposed to deciding to eliminate Villanova and Duke. Villanova just recently picked up a commitment from Bryan Antoine, the #11 player in the country. That gives Jay Wright two top 50 guards in his 2019 class, and with the possibility that Jahvon Quinerly could be around for a sophomore season, that turns VU’s attention away from guards like Mannion. Duke is Duke, of course, and while they don’t have any commitments for 2019 yet, Tre Jones is on campus now. While he’s a top 15 prospect, the majority of the attention (and likely the scoring and so forth) is going to go to RJ Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson. If that means Jones is more likely to return in 2019-20, then there’s not really going to be a spot for Mannion. On top of that, Duke was the lone spot in his final four that Mannion didn’t immediately have a date for an official visit set up, so perhaps that ended up gumming up the works a bit.
Arizona is the home state team for Mannion, and he attends high school just two hours away from the Wildcats’ campus. Arizona has been a national power for a long, long time, and they have to be the favorite here. Here’s what Mannion told Marquette Wire Sports in August about Arizona:
“It’s close to home. I like the staff obviously. They were one of my first Pac-12 offers. Coach Miller is talking about changing the way they play to more guards, which is how I play — up-tempo, fast. He said in the past they had bigs, so they haven’t really with DeAndre Ayton and (Dusan) Ristic last year, they weren’t really able to play fast. They played to their advantage and throw it into the post and stuff like that. But he said in the upcoming years he wants to change the way they play and play it more up-tempo.”
For comparison’s sake, here’s what he said about Marquette:
“I chose them because of my relationship with the coaches. They’ve been on me for a while now and we talk quite a bit. I really like their staff. I know they have a few players I’m pretty close with: Markus Howard and Brendan Bailey. I kind of grew up with Brendan in Utah. My dad and his dad worked together. I like the way they play. They’re up tempo, and they give their guards a lot of freedom.”
One final thing I want to toss at you, and that’s Mannion’s response when the Wire asked him “What are you looking for in a school in general?”
“The two main things are play style and relationships with the coaching staff.”
Look, I’m not trying to tell you that I know what Nico Mannion is thinking, or what his parents are thinking, or what anyone else who might be giving him guidance is thinking. What I am telling you is this: Mannion said that he had Marquette in his final four because of his relationship with the staff and because of their established style of play. He wasn’t as effusive about Sean Miller’s staff at Arizona, and those guys are telling him they want to change their style of play to something that would fit Mannion’s abilities better.
Marquette has gotten to this point for Mannion for a reason. Whether that reason is enough to make him want to come to Milwaukee for college, we’ll have to wait and see. He’s scheduled to make an official visit to campus during Marquette Madness/Homecoming weekend, and his official visit to Arizona is two weeks after that. When setting his visits, Mannion indicated that he was expecting to have a decision by January, so it may be a while before that gets locked in.
Then again, we weren’t really expecting a cut down to just two schools, so who knows when we’ll get an update going forward.
Marquette just picked up a 2019 commitment from Dexter Akanno, leaving MU with one scholarship spot in that class projected to be available. Here’s the scholarship situation as it currently stands: