Updated: Sep 10, 2020
I spent the weekend learning a lot about the next Wildcat in training, Nolan Hickman.
Saturday afternoon he announced his commitment over Twitter, becoming the first verbal commitment for Kentucky in the class of 2021.
The 6'2 four-star point guard chose the Wildcats over programs like UCLA, Kansas, Washington, Arizona and Oklahoma. He says he's already working to get other guys here, including his close friend Paolo Banchero, who just committed to Duke on Thursday evening.
I talked to Nolans High School Head Coach over the weekend, to break down what kind of player Kentucky is actually getting.
"A competitor that works and does whatever the coach asks him whenever the coaches asks him," said Wasatch Academy HC Paul Peterson. Says he's most proud of the foundation he's created through the Boys & Girls Club, called 'The Give Back' Virtual Camp, which promotes learning new basketball skills that are taught by Nolan himself, this year coming through a Zoom call. It will be to the first 100 kids to sign up, ages 3rd-8th grade. Calipari always preaches to be a 'servant leader' and help out in any community you're involved in, so this doesn't surprise me that this is the off the field type of character Cal recruits in a player.
When Kentucky receives a verbal commitment, the official UK Basketball Twitter account routinely releases a video of a young boy watching a Kentucky game in awe, with UK usually making the clip a highlight of a former Kentucky player who they believe he is most resembled through. The one they released for Nolan was Brandon Knight.
I like the comparison of Brandon Knight. A true floor general that could run the offense efficiently and score at any moment.
I asked his Head Coach who he would compare Nolan Hickman to in the NBA, and he said, "No one right now. He's very unique." It seems that Nolan still isn't fully blossomed to who he can become, but has a very high ceiling. I like the comparisons of a John Wall that can shoot, but if he can become half of who John Wall was in Lexington, you wouldn't hear me complaining.
Kentucky got their first look at Nolan Hickman while watching Paolo Banchero playing, specifically in a game back in February where Nolan scored 36 points against Banchero and grabbed the full attention of Tony Barbee and John Calipari. Hickman kept the decision quiet for a while because he wanted to "shock the world" by committing to the Wildcats. "It has always been a lifelong dream for me to play at Kentucky, and Coach Cal is a legend, so it was a no-brainer for me."
With Kentucky missing out on back to back big time recruits in Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee), Kentucky is hitting the recruiting trail a lot harder. Those were guys Kentucky were in pretty good standings with, that ultimately just fell through the cracks.
Theres been some buzz that Nolan Hickmans commitment would be the "first of many" within the next few weeks, so stay tuned as we'll have you updated on all the news.