Hunter Sallis, once the highest-rated recruit in school history, has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal, potentially leaving another hole in Gonzaga’s backcourt as the Bulldogs turn their attention to the 2023-24 season.
A former five-star recruit and defensive specialist who was usually the first or second guard off Gonzaga’s bench this season, Sallis entered the portal on Friday afternoon, according to a report from The Athletic.
The Omaha, Nebraska, native becomes the second Gonzaga guard to enter the portal since the Bulldogs’ season ended with an 82-54 loss to UConn last Saturday at the Elite Eight in Las Vegas. Fellow sophomore Dominick Harris, a former four-star recruit who wasn’t part of GU’s rotation this season, submitted his name Wednesday night.
Sallis was the nation’s second-rated combo guard and the country’s No. 21 overall recruit (per 247Sports.com) when he committed to the Bulldogs on March 26, 2021, during Gonzaga’s run to the national championship game in Indianapolis.
Sallis was the highest-ranked recruit in program history until the country’s top overall prospect, Chet Holmgren, gave a commitment to the Zags approximately a month later. Sallis, Holmgren and Jalen Suggs have been the only five-star players to sign at Gonzaga, according to the 247Sports.com rating system.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard played in 59 games off the bench over two seasons and was a candidate to start for the Bulldogs in 2023-24. Shooting guard Rasir Bolton exhausted his college eligibility and reserve guard Malachi Smith hasn’t announced whether he’ll use a COVID-19 waiver and return for a fifth season or focus on a career in professional basketball.
Sallis exclusively came off the bench for the Zags last season, but he took on an expanded role in Few’s backcourt, playing 16.8 minutes as a sophomore after averaging 13.6 during his freshman season.
He averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds last season while increasing his assist numbers, from 0.6 per game in 2022-23 to 1.4 this season, often spelling sophomore starter and fellow 2022 recruit Nolan Hickman at the point guard position.
Sallis was one of Gonzaga’s best defensive stoppers in the backcourt. Few often brought him off the bench to shadow the opponent’s best guard or wing, giving GU length and size the Bulldogs lacked in the starting unit with the 6-2 Hickman and 6-3 Bolton.
Sallis gave the Zags quality minutes in the postseason, averaging 17.7 minutes in the NCAA Tournament and scoring five points to go with five rebounds in GU’s 79-76 come-from-behind win over UCLA in the Sweet 16 on March 23.
Sallis scored five points in 17 minutes during the team’s Elite Eight loss to UConn last Saturday – potentially his final game in a GU uniform.
Gonzaga relied on Sallis’ defense at key points during the season, but his offensive efficiency took a dip as a sophomore. After making 56.4% of his shots from the field as a freshman, Sallis converted at a 46.6% clip this season. He made 25.6% of his 3-pointers after connecting on 26.5% during his freshman year.
The Bulldogs have lost multiple backcourt players to the transfer marker, but there’s a good chance they’ll use the portal to replenish.
Few has a strong track record when it comes to adding quality guards, acquiring experienced transfers such as Smith, Bolton, Andrew Nembhard, Ryan Woolridge, Geno Crandall, Admon Gilder and Nigel Williams-Goss .