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2022-2023 Player Preview: Hunter Sallis

Along with Nolan Hickman, Hunter Sallis will have a major jump from his freshman to sophomore season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Gonzaga vs Georgia State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Before I get into it, you should be aware that Hunter Sallis is changing his uniform number. If you are looking for #10 with the Sideshow Bob locks, you won’t find that combination. Just know it’s now #5.

Alright, now that’s out of the way.

Gonzaga’s backcourt has some serious depth this season and Hunter Sallis is the best defender of the talented bunch. Fans got to see his continuous effort on-ball last season along with the energy he puts into getting a hand out in the passing lanes (one of three Gonzaga players to have 4+ steals in a game last season). Most of his big highlights came off from turning a steal into a bucket on the other end of the floor. Get ready for a lot more of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up leading the team in steals.

Hunter Sallis will not only end up being the best defender in the WCC but has a chance to be one of the top two-way players in all of college basketball (once his offensive game really starts to click in the half-court sets and comes all together). The 6’ 5”, 175-pound wing is relentless on the defensive end, has a high basketball IQ, and his athleticism is through the roof. That’s a recipe for success.

On the offensive end, Hunter was the absolute king of moving without the ball. His cuts towards the rim were just spectacular to watch all last season. He would find an easy path to the rim without even taking a dribble. That’s a major reason why Sallis had one of the better two-point shooting percentages on the team (63.4 2P% on 52-82 field goals). He lived at the rim. That trend will continue and at a higher volume with the more time on the floor that he will receive this season.

One part of his offensive game that could have used some work was his three-point shooting (26.3 3P% on 5-19 three-pointers). Luckily enough, this team will not have to rely on that from him every night (that’s thanks to the insane amount of shooters this squad has in Malachi Smith, Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther, Nolan Hickman, Dominick Harris). That doesn’t mean Sallis can’t stretch out the floor and let it go. If Kraziness in the Kennel told us anything, he’s been working on that part of his game.

Mark Few will be very impressed with the improvements that Hunter has made this offseason. Because of this, expect his minutes to have a big increase. During his first year with the Zags, Sallis only averaged 13.6 minutes per game. That will now change to be just under 25 MPG in 2022-2023 due to his ability to guard multiple positions.

Of course, there are questions about whether or not he will end up in the starting lineup. That probably won’t be happening on a regular basis (depending on matchups) but Sallis will be one of the first substitutions. Not many teams can say that they have a guy of Hunter’s caliber coming off the bench. That’s a scary thought for Gonzaga’s opponents.

With a big second Gonzaga campaign, Hunter should play himself into a second rounder in the stacked 2023 NBA Draft. Time for me to cop a new #5 Sallis jersey.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho