SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pinnacle High School (Phoenix) is blessed with two of the best passers in the nation.
It’s been quite the week for the Pioneers athletic program, which saw Chosen 25 point guard Nico Mannion hit a game-winning buzzer-beater to defeat Shadow Mountain (Phoenix), which had been the No. 8 team in the preseason boys basketball Super 25, on Nov. 30.
Then, on Monday, quarterback Spencer Rattler received his All-American Bowl jersey.
He said the Shadow Mountain game “was the best game I’ve seen (Mannion) play.”
But Mannion might have one-upped himself Thursday, putting on a show against Chosen 25 guard Jalen Green. Mannion dropped 33 points and 12 assists as he weaved his way into the paint, drew attention from multiple defenders and consistently whipped pinpoint passes cross-court for open looks.
Mannion did so with Green switching on and off him.
Rattler was among the onlookers.
The quarterback also played on the Pinnacle basketball team last season, but with his Oklahoma career right around the corner, he’s focusing on getting into college football shape.
He is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country.
And Mannion is the No. 1 point guard in the country despite reclassifying so he could start at Arizona a year early. He was a preseason ALL-USA selection.
Yet with all the accolades and attention, Mannion said he remains level-headed about Pinnacle running out the top player at two positions in two different sports.
“I wouldn’t say it’s normal now, but we’ve kind of gotten to the point where it’s not as big of a deal to us,” he said.
He does, though, take pride in the fact that neither player transferred. Both have been at Pinnacle since their first day of high school.
“It’s definitely odd to have the No. 1 point guard and the No. 1 quarterback at the same school, same city, and I mean, it’s not like we just transferred in recently.”
Rattler: “We really put Pinnacle on the map we feel like, and we just want to continue doing that.”
Pinnacle basketball coach Charles Wilde said Mannion is humble, not just putting on a facade in front of the camera.
“He likes being on the court with a big crowd,” Wilde started to say – and that much is clear. The Thursday game was televised on ESPN+, and Mannion scored 12 of the first 17 points for Pinnacle, going 4-for-5 from 3-point range with his one miss rolling in and out of the hoop.
“But everything else outside of that, he’d rather just be at home or with his teammates in the locker room,” Wilde continued. “He doesn’t have to have the glory.”
Mannion was elected duke of Pinnacle’s homecoming but asked if he could pass on the honor.
“I get a lot of attention… I didn’t feel the need to do it,” Mannion said. “I felt like, if I won, cool, it’s not a big deal for me, especially when someone else could do it and get the attention for it.”
A point guard on and off the court alike.
Rattler is no novice to national attention either. He has been the subject of an ESPN feature and Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond the Lights,” seemingly in the news his entire high school career.
The attention spans to social media, where Rattler has 43,000 followers on Instagram and Mannion has 227,000. Both have more than 10,000 followers on Twitter.
“I’m used to it and I like it,” Rattler said. “It’s something that really doesn’t matter to me, and I just kind of roll with it. It kind of just comes to me and I just try to not get a big head from it.”
That doesn’t mean either player lacks confidence. They absolutely recognize their abilities.
Wilde said Mannion realized he can compete with anyone after becoming the youngest basketball player ever on the Italy national team, and Rattler believes Pinnacle football would have won the championship if he hadn’t lost eligibility right before the playoffs.
But they don’t let that confidence become cockiness.
“They love (being the top-rated players) … but the thing is, as good as players they are, they’re probably better people. They’re fun to be around, they’re very polite, they’re very coachable,” Wilde said. “They’re just going to be outstanding at the next level because they’re that way.”