This will be the third year that Hunter Sallis has started for Millard North (Neb.) High School for coach Tim Cannon and he’s emerged not only as a major recruiting target for Kentucky but as one of the top players in the 2021 recruiting class.
The 6-5 guard averaged averaged 22.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season after averaging 18.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a sophomore. Cannon says it has been a remarkable journey for Sallis — who had the nickname Bambi because it took him so long to coordinate his long arms and legs — to get where he is now.
“As a freshman, he was like 6-foot, 140 pounds,” his coach said. “He started JV as a freshman and was like seventh man on the varsity. I remember his dad telling me he didn’t even start on his eighth-grade team. A lot of friends of mine told me later they always thought Hunter would be the one to develop more than ones playing ahead of him.”
Kentucky is one of 12 schools Sallis has on his list of potential college choices even though he likely won’t make a decision until spring when he can see what team rosters might look like next season.
Cannon said it was five or six weeks ago when Kentucky got really involved with Sallis and offered him a scholarship.
“He is very, very interested (in Kentucky),” Cannon said. “North Carolina had been the most recent of the big boys to offer before Kentucky did. He’s had offers from Kansas, Oregon and Gonzaga for a long time. Kentucky offered and that changed the whole ballpark.
“I’ve got a friend here, Pete Kilgore, and UK is the only team he follows. He actually told me when (assistant) coach (Joel) Justus calls it is the real thing and within a week he called me.”
Cannon has no trouble pointing out what Sallis does best that has impressed so many college recruiters.
“I think just his ability to get to the basket. He is very slithery and gets through people and now goes over people also,” Cannon said. “He was really good getting between people and using his skinniness to his advantage.
“His shooting percentage is always high. It was right at 57 percent last season but he gets a lot of good looks at the basket and then gets his dunks. He has so many games where he gets to the basket so well.”
Cannon says Sallis has worked to improve his jump shot and that has made him even more difficult to guard.
“He goes to a trainer to work on his shot and moves and that type of thing,” Cannon said. “He is still doing that now. During the season he will do it on Sunday and maybe one night per week. But he’s always working on his moves and shot along with shooting here with us all he can.”
Off the basketball court, Cannon says Sallis is “very quiet and humble” even though he’s become a local celebrity because of his success.
“He is a legend in high school here,” Cannon said. “Anybody who follows basketball knows him. The other night he took a picture with my 12-year-old granddaughter. My grandkids like to take a picture with him and brag to their friends. Everywhere we go kids want pictures with him. They want their shoes signed. I have never seen him complain. He never gets tired of it.
“He’s a really nice kid who is nice to other people all the time. Very courteous. I saw him every day in (history) class for 180 days as a sophomore and 90 as a junior. He’s just a good kid.”
Certainly North Millard athletics trainer Lisa Moore shares that opinion after watching and working with Sallis.
“He’s going to be a great kid to see how his future turns out,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to to watch big things happening for him.”