Players often talk about relationships when asked about their recruitment. Academics, tradition, facilities, location — they are all important, too. But relationships with coaches seem to be the first thing from the lips of high-level recruits when asked how their recruitment is going.
And coaches know it. In the case of Millard North junior-to-be Hunter Sallis, a player whose potential has drawn the attention of major college programs since his freshman year, those relationships are consistently being nurtured — from the likes of Creighton, Nebraska and Iowa State, among others.
The 6-foot-4, 160-pound guard said he’s getting to know Fred Hoiberg and Nebraska’s new staff, and that his relationship with Creighton has long been established.
His relationship with Nebraska is “getting better,” he said.
“I talk to them often,” he said. “I talk to Coach Matt (Abdelmassih) often, and Hoiberg calls and texts. Things are going well.”
Creighton calls often. The Bluejays watched every one of his games last week at the Adidas Summer Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, and Sallis said their relationship is good.
“I go up there a lot to play in open gyms with their players when I can within the rules, or about twice a month,” he said.
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CU assistant Paul Lusk is the lead recruiter for in-state players, and Sallis said that is going well. Head coach Greg McDermott is also heavily involved in the recruitment of Sallis.
“I talk to McDermott a lot,” he said. “He’s cool and texts me after my games sometimes.”
Iowa became the latest to offer Sallis on June 15, joining Creighton, Nebraska, Iowa State, Kansas State, Mississippi and Drake.
Marquette, Oregon, Tulsa, UCLA, Colorado and California are also showing interest.
Oregon coach Dana Altman made a trip to Millard North on April 24 to see Sallis in an individual workout. UCLA assistant Michael Lewis, who spent the past three seasons with Tim Miles at Nebraska, was the lead recruiter for Sallis at NU and was watching in Birmingham.
Under NCAA rules, juniors can take five official visits starting Aug. 1. Nebraska is working to secure one of those.
“Nebraska really wants me to take an official visit,” Sallis said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to take an official or an unofficial.”
Sallis had his first in-person meeting with Hoiberg and staff during an unofficial visit to Lincoln on June 19.
“They were showing me on film how well they space the floor and showing me how they like to run off ball screens,” Sallis said. “They run the floor really well, so that fits me.”
Oregon and Cal are in the running for unofficial visits.
In the meantime, the still-growing Sallis continues to work on his game and think about the upcoming high school season. Two Millard North teammates — Max Murrell and Jasen Green — are also attracting power conference recruiting interest on the summer circuit.
Sallis said his “jump shot has come a long way” and that he wants to be more of a consistent shooter and better playmaker for teammates.
“That’s what I’ve been working on the past month,” he said.
Sallis doesn’t seem motivated by recruiting rankings. Frankly, the shy 16-year-old doesn’t say a lot. But a little prying into his motivations turns up this nugget: “To play professionally and make money playing basketball so I can help my family. That is what motivates me.”
And this, as to why he can be found in a gym most any day:
“It’s just fun,” he said. “I like playing basketball.”
Photos: Division I basketball and football recruits in Nebraska for the 2020 class
These are the basketball and football players from Nebraska in the 2020 class who have at least one Division I scholarship offer. Did we miss anyone? Let us know by sending an email to email@example.com