Pinnacle vs Mountain Pointe (copy)

Nico Mannion, center, a UA target and 5-star point guard out of Phoenix, will reclassify from 2020 to the class of 2019.

Arizona received its first commitment to the class of 2019 on Friday, and it's a big one: Five-star guard Nico Mannion of Phoenix said he will play for the Wildcats.

Mannion's decision had been expected especially after he cut his list to two schools last week, but he still had an Oct. 5-7 visit scheduled to Marquette until he made his decision Friday.

Mannion is expected to visit Arizona for the Oct. 14 Red-Blue Game along with fellow five-star 2019 players Josh Green and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Green was a teammate of Mannion on the West Coast Elite travel club. Mannion also has an official visit scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 19.

Mannion wasn’t immediately available for comment but he told 247Sports that the consistent recruiting efforts of the Arizona coaches, and his comfort level with them, made the difference. UA coach Sean Miller met with him Sunday at the point guard's Phoenix home, on the first day in-home visits were allowed, and Mannion told 247Sports he made his decision within a day or two after that.

“I mean, I kind of had an idea and I was leaning that way a little bit, but Marquette is such a great school as well that I at least wanted to give them a shot,” Mannion said. “But after the in-home, a day or two after it just felt right. I didn’t need to take any more visits, it felt like home.”

Mannion said the UA coaches were “real” in dealing with him, and made it known clearly how much he was wanted.

“That was a huge thing for me, go where I’m wanted, where I can go in right away and produce,” Mannion told 247Sports. “I think they will give me that opportunity. Just the consistency really, they were at all of my games. They’ve been down here pretty often, they went to a couple of my high school games.”

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Mannion was a class of 2020 player until he reclassified over the summer. He will play his final season for Phoenix Pinnacle High School.

As a Pinnacle freshman in 2016-17, Mannion was the subject of a lengthy Sports Illustrated feature on growing up as a basketball prodigy.

Both UA guard Brandon Williams and forward Emmanuel Akot saluted Mannion’s decision.

There’s little doubt Mannion will have an immediate impact on the Wildcats next season. He’s the No. 1 rated point guard in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports rankings, and the No. 9 recruit overall. ESPN rates Mannion the No. 11 player while Rivals has him at No. 20.

Josh Gershon, a West Coast-based analyst for 247Sports, wrote that Mannion has good size and athleticism for a college point guard.

“Mannion does a nice job mixing scoring and creating, using his handle and quick first step to take defenders off the dribble, efficiently attacking the defense from there,” Gershon wrote. “He's a consistent three-point shooter who can also hit floaters, get to the basket and draw fouls.

“Not just a scorer, Mannion's shiftiness and handle help him in the halfcourt, breaking the defense down before using his vision to find open teammates.

“Defensively, Mannion is respectable laterally and makes plays with his instincts and effort. He's also a plus rebounder for the position.”

ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz, a UA grad, also suggested good things about Mannion’s future.

“High on Nico Mannion's NBA outlook,” Schmitz said. “Has positional size, impressive change of pace with the ball, good feel, has touch and creativity, killer mentality/confidence. He's impressed me with the Italian U16 team, on the AAU circuit, and at Steph Curry Camp. Great get for Arizona.”

Mannion becomes the highest-rated UA commit since Deandre Ayton, since the Wildcats’ 2018 recruiting class was severly impacted by the federal investigation into college basketball. Five-star commit Jahvon Quinerly decommitted last fall because of UA’s off-court issues, as did four-star forward Shareef O’Neal.


Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or bpascoe@tucson.com. On Twitter @brucepascoe

Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball