Highly-touted 2021 combo-guard Hunter Sallis announced this morning that he will be attending Gonzaga University. Sallis chose the Zags over Kentucky, North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas, UCLA, Oregon, and Creighton. He should provide an instant impact for Mark Few’s program next season. Sallis is the 6th ranked overall prospect in the senior class per 247 Sports and the second five-star recruit to commit to the Bulldogs in as many seasons as combo-guard Jalen Suggs out of Minnehaha Academy (MN) was the highest-rated recruit in school history last year.
Sallis has continued to shoot up the national ranks over the past few seasons due to his eye-popping production, two-way versatility, and clear upside. This past season, Sallis led Millard North High School to a Nebraska State Championship victory while averaging 22.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 2.5 SPG. Among his other awards, Sallis was also selected to the 2021 Naismith Boys HS All-American 2nd Team as well as the McDonald’s All-American game and the Nike Hoop Summit USA Team. At 6’5” with a 6’8” wingspan, Sallis will bring positional size, versatility, scoring, athleticism, and defense to Spokane.
In this interview, he discusses what led him to make his final decision and peels back the curtain a bit for Gonzaga fans in order to provide an idea of what they’re getting in Hunter Sallis the person, not just the basketball player.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect, and future Gonzaga Bulldog, Hunter Sallis, from Omaha, Nebraska:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background? How did you come to fall in love with the game of basketball?
Hunter Sallis: I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. My mom is really good at basketball — she played in college at San Diego State University. Really I just started off as a local kid playing basketball locally and I didn’t really start getting real good until my freshman year. I really made some improvements and ever since then I’ve been in love with the game.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
HS: In middle school I ran track.
PI: What are some of your greatest strengths as a player?
HS: I’m a three-level scorer. I love to play defense and I’m really good in transition. I’ve been working on my leadership skills because in order to be a good PG at the next level that’s really what I need. Those are the things that I’ve really been working on and take pride in.
PI: Can you expand a little bit on some improvement areas?
HS: Yeah, my leadership and I’ve still been working on defense. Every day with my trainer we’ve been getting up a lot of shots, trying to deepen my range, and I’ve been doing ball screen work.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
HS: I’d say defense. Defense, for sure.
PI: How would you describe yourself as a defender?
HS: I would say I play the passing lanes well, I get deflections and steals that turn into run-outs for dunks for myself or my teammates.
PI: What were the most important factors in your college decision?
HS: Really just a place where I really fit in with the playing style as well as the relationship with the coaching staff.
PI: What type of system do you think best fits your playing style?
HS: Just a fast-paced team. A team that really gets after it on defense and a team that likes running a lot of ball screens and stuff like that. Just things where I can really excel in the open court, little stuff like that.
PI: How much of a challenge did the pandemic present while you were going through your recruiting process? Was it difficult to connect with programs?
HS: It was really hard because of COVID. I really like the recruiting process, I liked learning, that’s what I liked about it the most. On all my zoom calls I learned a lot, like different types of play styles, different reads, different coverages, I feel like it really helped me in the basketball way, also.
PI: Who did you turn to for guidance during the process? What sort of advice did they give you?
HS: Definitely my parents and I talked to Bradley Beal a little bit. Really just advice of when I make my pick to do what’s best for me. Nobody knows what’s best for me other than me so really just use my head and take my best guess because really it’s a guess with all of this because of COVID I was only able to visit one school. It was really hard, it was really hard with everything, but yeah that’s really the best advice they told me.
PI: What’s your connection with Bradley Beal?
HS: Really, I was about to play with his summer AAU team then COVID hit so they weren’t able to have a season and then his trainer texted me before and gave me a couple things to do during COVID so they’re really just both looking out for me and being like that mentor for me.
PI: What’s that do for your confidence knowing an NBA All-Star like Bradley Beal is supporting you?
HS: For sure, it gives me a lot of confidence really knowing that he’s telling me the same thing that got him to where he’s at. It gives me an extra edge, that’s really all it takes to get to the next level, is just knowledge, so I’m really appreciative of that.
PI: With your mom playing collegiately and in the WNBA, what are some things she’s instilled in you growing up?
HS: Really like the mental aspect, not letting all this stuff get to my head and staying level headed. Then from a skills aspect, I remember when I was younger she helped me with my shooting and ball-handling stuff like that.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
HS: I want to be remembered as a student and good citizen first as well as a good basketball player.