Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Nolan Hickman has been steadily climbing up the 2021 national rankings and does not appear to be done. He has recently moved up to the 30th spot in the 247 rankings, and stands at 51st in the 247 composite rankings. He played a crucial role on a Seattle Rotary team that reached last summer’s Nike EYBL Peach Jam, where he teamed with five-star rising senior Paolo Banchero and high-major 2021 recruit Shane Nowell. On that Rotary team, a primary ingredient within their recipe for success was decision making and ball movement — Hickman did his part, finishing with a 2.4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio along with being the team’s second-leading scorer.
Alongside another competent passer and ball handler in Nowell at Eastside Catholic High School (WA), Hickman led the Crusaders to one of the top seeds in the WIAA 3A state playoffs, which culminated in the program’s second-straight third place finish. For his senior season, Hickman has decided to accept a new challenge with his transfer to Wasatch Academy (UT). A schedule filled with elite competition, plus the added possibility of playing in the GEICO Nationals should solidify Hickman as the next big-time college prospect to come out of Wasatch.
Schools prioritizing Hickman right now include Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington, with others from power conferences keeping a close eye on him. What type of player are they pursuing? A point guard who competes at a high level on both ends of the floor, who stands 6’2 with a 6’6 wingspan, with athleticism that’s just starting to truly reveal itself. Hickman has great control as a ball handler, with potential to create shots for himself and an ability to make the right play when he sees an advantage. He excels in transition as well as around the basket in the half court and exhibits nice touch on floaters with advanced body control when slashing. He has off-guard ability as well, and should form quite the dynamic backcourt next to Richard “Pop Pop” Isaacs at Wasatch.
In this interview, Hickman discusses family, his philanthropic endeavors, the decision to attend prep school, what factors he’s weighing in recruitment, overcoming moments of adversity, participating in some of the Seattle protests, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect Nolan Hickman, from Seattle, Washington:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?
Nolan Hickman: I’m from Seattle, Washington. I live with my mom and dad and my two siblings, my sister and brother. Basketball has been my whole life ever since I was younger, you know, ever since I was pretty much born my dad put the ball in my hands. Ever since then I just ran with it...but I came a long way, though, you know? I haven't been on the “A-Team” all my life. I experienced some hardships being put on the B-team and just felt stuck like, you know...hurt...but I made it through. I’ve worked entirely hard for where I'm at right now. And I'm not gonna stop working until I get where I want to be, which is the NBA.
PI: What does your circle look like?
NH: The people I lean on the most are pretty much myself and family. My family plays a huge part in all of this. It's not just the people I live with...it's my cousins, all of them. They’ve helped me tremendously, especially with what I'm starting with TheGiveBack Foundation. You know, being my age, it's a lot...with all the handling of everything and doing everything. So my cousins have played a huge role in taking ownership and trying to help me with this foundation. Also I lean on my brothers, Paolo [Banchero], Shane [Nowell]...you guys might know them, but I lean on them. My coach, Coach D. Hennings...that's my guy. I lean on him the most. He definitely has insight on what he's talking about. That's pretty much it.
PI: You created and ran your own basketball camp and you’re getting ready to unveil your foundation...can you share a bit about those endeavors?
NH: Well, this all came about last summer. I went to the [Nike] Elite 100 Camp with Paolo and Shane, right? And I'm in the dorm and you know, I'm going through a day’s worth of full training...it's really a full day of training, running drills, learning how to operate during training. So, I'm in the dorm, I'm just thinking, I'm like, “there ain't nobody my age doing camps like this or bringing something like this back to the town at least, you know?” So I'm like, “I think it'd be really dope if I brought all my guys — my little Seattle and Tacoma hoopers — if I was just to bring them all together and just form a camp.” I just thought it would be dope. So, I brought the idea to my parents as soon as I got back home. I'm like, “listen, this is what I want to do. I think it would be awesome.” And I don't do any of this for me — none of this is for me. I just feel like seeing the kids — because I was at that one point, as well — I looked up to all the hoopers in Seattle, like let's say, like Zach LaVine, Baby Boy [Dejounte Murray], I looked up to all of them. I would question myself, like “do they even see me? Do they know how hard I’m working, at least?” So just for me giving back to the kids and for them to see that I'm watching them and looking over them...it warms my heart.
So TheGiveBack Foundation — I'm actually launching it in January, so it should be launching very soon. I just bought my website, nolanhickman.com. I just got to finish up on design and everything, but it's really coming together. And it will only get bigger over time, hopefully. But right now, it’s basically mainly focusing on families who are on the verge of being poor, or, you know, really on that edge of being on that lower-class level. That's who I'm really focusing on — just giving an extra push or being a resource or providing assistance — helping them get to a stable condition...and especially if they got kids. With the kids, I would at least like to assist them with tools or items, anything that they need: if it's school, if it's basketball, if it's helping them out with anything. I just want them to at least come to the foundation, hook them up with this or that or anything. I just want to give back to them.
PI: Why is philanthropy important to you?
NH: It’s so important because my mom — now I don't want to sound like a typical kid or anything — but my mom, she's the strongest woman I've ever seen. She’s really influenced me to give back to as many people as possible. If I'm fortunate enough to give back to anybody who's less fortunate than me, then I have to — or I need to go out of my way to do that. That’s what she’s instilled in me. So my mom, she works at an all-women's group, like, it's hard to explain, but they all have kids. It's a teen group — so the girls are single and going through it with a kid and if they need resources, or help getting set up with a job, or anything, she helps them with that. So, seeing her do that for six-plus years and me helping her anyway I can, I just feel like I want to start my own thing and do what's best for me.
PI: Which Seattle hoopers did you find yourself looking up to while growing up?
NH: Dejounte Murray — I really, really used to study his game...Rainier Beach and Garfield games....I live for those moments! So just seeing them go at it every time, it just gave me a spark...it gave me and all my friends a spark, so it was amazing.
PI: In your opinion, what makes the Seattle basketball culture unique?
NH: What makes it so unique is that we all