It’s sometimes difficult to remember the red-headed basketball prodigy is only going into his junior year at PHS. Well, that was until Friday.
After much thought with my family and coaches, I have decided to reclassify up to 2019. Looking forward to a great senior year!! pic.twitter.com/gHuNbMQPIi
— niccolo (@niccolomannion) July 20, 2018
“My parents brought it up a little bit ago,” Mannion said to Sports360AZ.com. “The more I [thought] about it, the more I think it’s a good idea. I feel like I don’t need two more years [of high school]. I feel like after one more year I’ll be college-ready.”
Some may argue the 6-foot-3 leaper with incredible court savvy and a smooth jump shot is ready right now after leading the Pioneers to the 6A State Championship. He capped his season off scoring a game-high 21 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists in PHS’s route of Mountain Pointe in the title game at Wells Fargo Arena.
His ascension from an at times overmatched freshman to a dominant sophomore was a multi-step process according to his head coach.
“He got a lot stronger, he grew a little bit,” Charlie Wilde said to Sports360AZ.com. “But maybe the biggest thing was just mentality and maturity. You take strength and maturity and put those two together, along with how hard he works on his skills, it made a big splash for him his sophomore year.”
Life and basketball haven’t slowed down much for the highly coveted Mannion this summer. The 17-year-old played on the Under Armour circuit, as well as made a trip overseas to play for Italy in the FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers.
Over the past several weeks the world has gotten a sneak peek at why college coaches from around the country are courting Mannion’s services at the next level. Widely considered a five-star prospect, he already holds offers from Arizona, Duke, Marquette, UCLA, Villanova, Kentucky and host of others.
blessed to announce my top 1️⃣0️⃣!! pic.twitter.com/leyot479oZ
— niccolo (@niccolomannion) June 4, 2018
Many believe Mannion will call Tucson his college home thanks to his close relationship to Sean Miller and assistant Mark Phelps, as well as how the Wildcats have been recruiting him.
“They’ve been great,” he said of UofA. “Sometimes schools overwhelm me. They make me call every week. [Arizona] has been good…they just have a great staff down there. It’s a good vibe.”
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) July 12, 2018
Even throughout his chaotic summer Mannion is already looking forward to putting his familiar Pinnacle #1 jersey back on and trying to help the ‘Neers cut down the nets again next February.
“It’s really cool [winning the state championship this year], but I’m ready to get going,” Mannion said with a smile. “I think with the guys coming back that we have, we have a good shot of being able to do it again.”