Ranking the Contenders: Hunter Sallis
Officially, five-star guard Hunter Sallis has a top 12 in place. In reality, however, there are not 12 schools that have a realistic chance of signing the budding star. Here is a list at the teams with a realistic shot in order of likelihood to land Sallis’ letter of intent.
The Wildcats have looked to be the frontrunner by varying sizes of margin for a while now despite only coming to the table with an offer in August. That’s simply something blue bloods like John Calipari’s program are afforded the luxury of doing. Kentucky leads a number of programs that Sallis was able to visit either officially or unofficially in the past. The fact that UK will likely have holes in the backcourt come 2021 makes the program even more alluring for a guard like Sallis with NBA upside and aspirations. Kentucky will be difficult but not impossible to beat down the stretch.
2. NORTH CAROLINA
Roy Williams and company represent the biggest threat to Kentucky. The Tar Heels were seen as the slight leader before The Wildcats entered the mix and still have to like where they sit to some extent, though, maybe not quite as much as they once did. UNC offered back in April, so the bonds in place are strong. Sallis has not visited campus in any capacity, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for UNC nor Kentucky, even if it’s less than ideal. Expect this to be a Calipari-versus-Williams contest with only a small sliver of chance that another school slides in and wins out.
3. IOWA STATE
One of the few out-of-state schools Sallis was able to visit before Covid19 struck, Iowa State has positioned itself relatively well. They aren’t likely to be the last team standing, but it’s not statistically impossible. Sallis has a longstanding and solid relationship with ISU assistant James Kane and the five-star prospect seemed to like what he saw on his pre-covid unofficial visit. I’d expect the Cyclones to be left standing in the final five. Actually landing the commitment will be a much taller task.
The hometown school is a safe bet to make Sallis’ next cut, but may need some divine intervention to actually land his commitment. The Omaha native is familiar with the program, the campus and the city, so those things play in the favor of Greg McDermott’s program. The fact that The Blue Jays are coming off a season that saw them capture a share of the Big East regular season title also helps their stock. Global pandemics also tend to favor schools in proximity to the recruits they’re chasing.
Standing toe-to-toe with North Carolina and Kentucky is exceedingly difficult, however, and that’s what Creighton has been asked to do here.
Sallis has been on campus in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks seem like a safe bet to make his final five should he narrow his list one more time. Kansas started targeting the five-star early this year and were able to get him on an unofficial visit just before the Covid-19 crisis put on-campus recruiting on pause. If there’s something to be said about getting the final visit, it can be said about the Jayhawks. Bill Self has an uphill battle in front of him, but he could be in the mix until the end even if he’s unlikely to land the letter of intent.