Although it's easy to speak in general terms, virtually every NU prospect forms relationships with the expert local recruiter. Take Jordan Ash, for example. The three-star 2015 point guard began communicating with Hardy at age 15—right at the start of his high school career. The Wildcats offered last July.
"I've been talking with Tavaras for a year and a half," Ash said. "He talks basketball, but at the same time, he wants to talk about other things."
Ash and his Illinois Wolves 16U AAU squad struggled on Saturday afternoon against the Eric Gordon All-Stars. Aside from developing phenom Roosevelt Smart, the Wolves struggled to establish offensive rhythm. It happens. Ash understands that AAU tournaments are basketball marathons.
To Ash, the central purpose of AAU is improvement—a statement echoing that of many other recruits. They can experiment with their games, which can lead to erratic performances that benefit players in the long run.
"It's about the little things," Ash said.
His AAU pedigree plays a major role in his recruitment. The Wolves have produced NU talents including John Shurna, Dave Sobolewski and Nate Taphorn. Ash played with the latter for two seasons with the Wolves, and he certainly considers the value of NU connections.
"I've talked to them about Northwestern and they told me what they liked about it," Ash said. "I'm not sure if it's like: ‘I have to go to Northwestern.' But there are a few guys who went there. It's good that a lot of the Wolves teammates connect with each other in college."
No doubt Ash is a top priority. In the meantime, Collins continues to scour the field in preparation for his 2014 class. Before devoting considerable attention to Ash, he needs to determine which players he'll hope to include in his first group of recruits.
Hardy has made him fully aware of the circumstances. Ash waits patiently for Collins to reach out and see him play. It's a lengthy process, but Ash is already loaded with NU relationships and connections. That certainly bodes well.