As a former player who wore the Northwestern colors proudly during my four years (2000-04), I am excited about the 2012-13 Men's Basketball Season.
Coach Carmody and I still have a great relationship and throughout the spring, summer, and fall I have been able to see the progress of the Wildcats and speak with Coach Carmody about certain players he feels will help the team this season.
Coach Tavaras Hardy has done an amazing job recruiting some talented players to Northwestern, which has raised the bar and expectations within the program. To be honest as a player at Northwestern, Tavaras recruited me to join the Wildcats.
Drew Crawford is primed and ready to take his game to another level. He has been a winner since his freshman year. Crawford is a strong athletic guard who is a good defender, and he can score inside or from long range. Expected to play at least 38 minutes per game, he by far is the leader of this Wildcats team.
Jared Swopshire, a 6'8 forward gives the team that Lamar Odom feel because he has intangibles to his game. He plays defense, can push the ball as a guard on the fast break, has a pretty good shooter and finishes well around the basket. He fits Carmody's system like one of those "round pegs."
Tre Demps, I believe, is the "X-Factor" for this team. If he can stay confident and play with a calmness to his game, he will have a huge year. Alex Olah – or my nickname for him "Baby Eschmeyer" – is a player Northwestern hasn't seen since Evan Eschmeyer walked the campus. At 7'1 he has great size, a soft touch around the basket, and a pretty good jumpshot. He has to continue working and getting tougher which is something he will develop gaining experience on the court.
Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio are those veterans you need around for senior leadership and dependability to the program. Having seniors that are able to make plays, and set an example to the young guys on how they should go about their business is important. Nikola Cerina is a strong, athletic body who will impact the Wildcats immediately.
Sanjay Lumpkin from Minnesota is my player to watch out for. This freshman is 6'5, very athletic and plays basketball off instinct. He makes good decisions with the basketball, solid defender and just an overall play maker. Finally my man Dave Sobolewski is the coach on the floor who takes care of the basketball and runs Coach Carmody's system like a well-oiled machine. He has a high assist-to-turnover ratio and is tough as nails. Sobo reminds me of Scott Skiles (former Michigan State point guard) with that toughness and his ability to lead a team.
If this team can stay healthy, this will be a special year in Evanston.
Follow on Twitter: @JitimYoung
Jitim Young was a standout for Northwestern from 2000-2004. A Chicago native, he now serves as color commentator for NU basketball on WGN Radio 720.