By: Richard Obert, Arizona Republic | December 7, 2018
Chosen 25 2019 point guard Nico Mannion did an ESPN2 interview before Thursday’s marquee matchup at Scottsdale Chaparral.
That pumped him up.
Then, he saw who San Joaquin (Calif.) Memorial was putting on him to start the Hoophall West showdown.
Mannion drove around Green then popped out beyond the arc. Swish. He drove around, then got the ball from the 3-point line. Swish. Another 3 followed yet another 3.
Four minutes into the game, Mannion had 12 points — all on 3s — to keep pace with Green’s 11 points.
Neither Mannion nor Green disappointed, going back and forth, before Phoenix Pinnacle took control late in the second quarter and went on to win 90-69.
“The first half, I knew I had to get our team going,” Mannion said. “I made my first two (baskets) and I just kept shooting.
“Once I started feeling it, I kept going.”
Mannion finished with 33 points and 12 assists before taking a seat for good with 2:20 left.
“Nico wanted that from day one,” said junior guard Marcus Libman, who had to the challenge of trying to slow down Green. “It’s on ESPN, big showdown.”
Green, who has a 247Sports composite ranking of No. 2 overall in the nation and the No. 1 shooting guard, stuck around after Mannion and the rest of Pinnacle’s starters took a seat for a couple of highlight dunks, before going to the bench. He finished with 33 points.
Green and Mannion once roomed together last year at the USA Basketball camp.
As Mannion was surrounded by cameras and reporters after the game, Green walked by and smiling yelled, “Hey, big time.”
“He’s an Arizona commit, and Arizona is going to love him out here,” Green said. “It was a good matchup. We came out battling. We’ll both get better from it.”
Mannion said he was going to work on Green to follow him to Arizona.
But Green said Arizona is one of the schools he is considering, “but right now I’m not focused on a college.”