SPOKANE, Wash. — A few weeks ago Seattle-area native and five-star point guard Nolan Hickman committed to Gonzaga.
Hickman was originally committed to Kentucky, but after two assistant coaches within that program left, Nolan decided it was time to move on as well, and Mark Few decided to move in.
"As soon as I opened up my recruitment, Mark Few was the first person who called," recalled Nolan.
Gonzaga and Mark Few did not originally offer Hickman before he committed to Kentucky.
Once he decommitted from the Wildcats, Few was not going to make that same mistake again, even if Gonzaga’s man in charge initially thought he was done adding to the 2021-2022 roster.
"They weren’t recruiting nobody. They weren’t taking nobody else, so the fact that they reached out to me and really wanted me, it really showed me that I am wanted, and they needed me on the squad. They opened their eyes when it came down to it when I was a free agent. They do their homework. They do their research on real hoopers, which I am," said Nolan.
Although playing time has not been discussed between Nolan and the staff for next season, he hopes his hooping ability will lead to plenty of it.
"The way I impact the game, I don’t see there’s no way me not playing as much as I do. That’s what I’m going to come in and bring, my things that impact the game as much as possible. If the coaches see it, they’ll let me rock out," said Hickman.
Speaking of rocking out, Hickman got to do that with a few of his upcoming teammates a few weeks ago at the Iverson Classic in Memphis.
Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis were at the event that featured the top seniors in America.
Hickman wasn’t publicly committed to Gonzaga yet when he attended, but he went there with a purpose.
"It was real dope," Nolan said of getting to play with Chet and Hunter. "I kind of already threw a little hint to Chet and Hunter before going there that I was coming (to Gonzaga). They knew that we needed to start a little chemistry and that our connection needed to be down pat. That was kind of a little practice before touching campus type of thing. It was dope. I loved it," said Hickman.
That trio, along with a slew of exceptional returning players, has Gonzaga ranked as the preseason #1 team in the country by nearly every outlet.
"I don’t like nothing given. We gotta show why. That’s my thing," said Nolan of the ranking.
But if that talk proves to be correct and results in a national championship? Well, it would mean the world to Nolan.
"That would be huge. Winning a national title has always been a dream. Even staying in the same state where I’m from, that’s even crazier to think about, bringing one home. That’s nuts to even think about. I’m stuttering and getting chills even thinking about it right now speaking to you," said Nolan.