It's been an understandably hectic week for Chris Collins. The new head coach of Northwestern basketball is beginning to seem like a veteran given this recent stretch. He watched one assistant depart and hired another, all while continuing to intensify his team's recruiting efforts.
Sometime this week, Collins locked up Loyola assistant Armon Gates. Then, on Saturday, the 2015 contact period began for Illinois prospects. He, and presumably his assistants, hit the phones and made their interest known to some local targets. It's time to list off and analyze some of these players, many of whom we've spoken to in recent weeks.
Well, this one blew up quickly. Once a severely under-recruited prospect, Jordan heard from practically half the country this weekend. Former NU assistant Tavaras Hardy will recruit him intensely at Georgetown. Even Kansas called, which gives you a sense of just how much coaches are beginning to appreciate the Plainfield East (Ill.) shooting guard.
Jordan is one of the most impressive players I've seen on the AAU circuit. He's a serious candidate to shoot 45-40-80 at the college level. He plays above-average defense and shows off excellent intangibles. Collins continues to make Jordan one of the team's top priorities, but it would take a Herculean effort to land someone well worth the attention.
Evan Boudreaux, a remnant recruit of the Carmody era, continues to receive interest from the current group. Despite losing the entire old staff, Collins should–and will–pursue Boudreaux as a potential solution at power forward. Boudreaux can shoot, attack the glass and play with emotional energy—all positive qualities.
If I had to guess which recruit is most likely to commit to NU, Boudreaux would be my first answer. The Lake Forest (Ill.) standout has an opportunity to transform an in-state program. Though he's receiving interest from much of the Big Ten, NU can make its unique case. It won't happen soon, but Boudreaux looks the part of an excellent investment.
The Whitney Young small forward could have more upside than anyone in the group. A city champion in track, Toye carries this excellent athleticism to the court. He can drive the rim and elevate over defenders, and rounds out his offensive game with some nice shooting mechanics.
If NU needed to pick one recruit for which to pick up the intensity, Toye fits the bill. He's heard from several schools–many in the SEC–but the Wildcats could benefit from making the early offer. It's almost certainly worth the risk. As well, he said the opportunity to play with Aaron Jordan–his former AAU teammate–would be an attractive option. We'll see how this plays out, but don't expect Collins' interest to wane.
Ash could be the point guard of this team's future. In the case NU fails to land one of its current targets (Marcus Bartley or Tyler Ulis), the aggression will only pick up. Regardless, Ash is still among the team's priorities. The disciplined combo guard would be a strong addition to this program.
It's difficult, at least right now, to assess the damage of Hardy leaving. The former assistant built a strong relationship with the St. Joseph's prospect, and that took a couple of years. It's up to the current staff to rebuild those foundations, and that started with them reaching out this weekend.
Other local names to watch: Matt Rafferty, K.J. Santos, and Edward Morrow.
Stay tuned to Purple Wildcats for more exclusive coverage of Northwestern basketball recruiting.