The 2021 class is starting to look very impressive for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Four-star point guard Nolan Hickman just participated in the HoopSeen West Preview Camp powered by Pro Insight, a showcase in Utah that featured many of the best high school basketball prospects from the western United States, reported by the Herald Leader.
Hickman took care of business.
“Nolan was the best player at camp last weekend,” Pro Insight analyst Matt McKay told the Herald-Leader. “There was plenty of high-major talent in the gym and several guys with a ton of upside in their own right, but Nolan absolutely showed why he is someone Kentucky went after.”
Hickman was the first commit of the 2021 UK Basketball recruiting class. It was a tad surprising at the time due to his ranking in the class (43rd), but he’s showing why the Cats had so much interest in him.
“I’ve watched a lot of Nolan over the years, and I’ve never seen him shoot it better than he did this weekend,” McKay said. “It’s very evident he’s been in the lab, refining his range shooting. He does a great job creating just enough space to get it off and he had a quick release and shoots a soft ball all the way out to 23-25 feet. …
“His best trait at the moment is his steady, calm, poised, confident court presence. You’re not rattling him. In the SEC, that’s crucial. With a lead guard, you need to know what you’re getting from game to game, and Nolan is as consistent as they come.”
Kentucky is known for top-tier guards. From John Wall to Jamal Murray, the attention and hype these guards receive usually follow with stellar play on the court. Being a point guard at the University of Kentucky comes with a lot of pressure, and it sounds like Hickman is ready for it.
Hickman averaged 17.3 points, 3.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as a junior, making 38 percent of his three-point attempts. Some pretty impressive numbers on both ends of the floor.
Bryce Hopkins (30) just joined the 2021 class and Skyy Clark (14), a 2022 commit has left the door open to reclassification. The recruiting isn’t close to being done for next year, and depending on who stays from this year’s team, next season could bring an extremely talented class to UK.
Being able to effect the game in multiple ways not only makes for a great guard, but an elite player. With all the top talent that comes to Lexington, it’s important for these guys to have several strong points to their game.
“His demeanor reminds me of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander,” McKay said. “Nothing SGA or Nolan does looks difficult. Neither guy gets sped up — they force others to adapt to their pace. You always feel like something good is about to happen when the ball is in their hands.”
Comparing Hickman to SGA is key here as SGA wasn’t a ‘highly-touted’ recruit coming out of high school either, or at least in Kentucky’s standards.
We all remember how that turned out. Maybe Hickman can surprise the nation as well when he gets to Lexington next season.