Collins reaches out to Armon Gates

Purple Wildcats with the latest on the NU assistant coaching search...

Armon Gates has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Northwestern assistant coach opening.

The Loyola assistant known for his strong recruiting ability could help to replace the void left by Tavaras Hardy, who left NU for Georgetown last week.

An industry source confirmed to Purple Wildcats on Friday that Chris Collins reached out to Gates regarding the opening.

Described by Loyola head coach Porter Moser as "one of the fast-rising stars in the coaching profession," Gates would still bring an impressive set of experiences–as well as his youth–to the opening. A 2006 Kent State graduate, Gates broke into the assistant ranks at his alma mater before working at TCU.

Now at Loyola, Gates has worked to establish local ties that define what Collins might need in this next hire. Hardy leaves behind a string of connections that endeared the NU program to in-state schools. Hardy worked to build rapport with several current targets, and Collins will need to ease the rough transition.

Current NU assistant Patrick Baldwin also worked at Loyola. Baldwin seems most equipped, though, to cement the "broad-based" recruiting ties Phillips desires. Due to his recent work at Missouri State, Baldwin could very well begin to recruit the south and expand the NU name. His direction will become more clear in the next month, as new targets emerge.

With Gates among the leaders–if not the leader–for this coaching vacancy, it appears that Collins values these Chicago ties. One day after Brian James was officially announced as the second NU assistant, it's starting to look as though the wait for a complete staff might end shortly.

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