Here are some potential ways the group can attack the trail. It'll require some adjustment, but it's something they can overcome—as we've been saying all along.
One easy way to get in on recruitments is through the offer. NU did that with Marcus Bartley, and quickly swooped in with one early in the Collins era. That indicated their faith in the 2014 point guard from MacArthur (Ill.), and Bartley is now considered among the top candidates to join this new-look program.
This is also how NU has stayed competitive for Reid Travis and other top prospects. They identified talent and acted without hesitation. Some names for potential early offers: St. Andrew's (Ont.) power forward Chris Egi, Plainfield East (Ill.) shooting guard Aaron Jordan and Whitney Young (Ill.) small forward Joseph Toye. All are athletic with major upsides, and it might make sense for Collins to commit to recruiting them.
Identifying positional needs
They don't need another center. When looking at the current roster, former PW contributor Jeremy Woo and I were stunned to see that Carmody signed three centers for the 2012 class. It seems ridiculous, especially given that only one is likely to muster any sort of long-term contribution. There are two major and urgent pressing needs: shooting guard and power forward.
In terms of shooting guards, one of the lone hopes is Trevon Bluiett—who's likely to select Michigan as his college destination. They might need to expand their search, which could eventually include under-recruited guys such as Donte Ingram of Simeon and three-star talent Ore Arogundade of St. Viator. The power forward hopes currently rest on Reid Travis, with guys like Evan Boudreaux and Cody Schwartz currently potential looks for the 2015 class.
It was the staple of the Bill Carmody era. Then, NU found success by discovering players who fit the program vision and Princeton offense. John Shurna hardly received the attention he deserved throughout the recruiting process, but they recognized how he could impact the team. Now, with the Cats unlikely to land a program turning talent–at least right away–they can still find some short-term pieces. Reid Travis and Tyler Ulis are certainly possibilities, but the class can still be a success without them.
Even Marcus Bartley is somewhat under-recruited. The pass-first point guard could distribute the ball to athletes, and is especially good on defense. (One stray note: He would be an absolute terror at the top of a 1-3-1 zone. They should employ it just to see Bartley rack up steals.) This seems more important for the 2015 class, whose picture is growing increasingly clear. Arogundade and Ingram qualify as short-term sleepers, with guys like Schwartz and Edward Morrow receiving less recognition than they probably should.
This week, we'll have updates and checklists for the 2014 and 2015 classes. Stay tuned for the most informed coverage of Northwestern basketball recruiting.