"Gates was the coach I originally talked to at Loyola," Rafferty said. "He gave me a call and then talked to me about Northwestern."
Loyola recently offered Rafferty, providing an indication of just how much Gates believes in the Hinsdale (Ill.) target. A 6-7 "stretch four," Rafferty watched his recruitment pick up after an excellent start to his AAU season with Chicago Lockdown.
Rafferty seems like your standard blue-collar player. This past Saturday, which marked the first day in which coaches are allowed unlimited calls to 2015 Illinois prospect, he played basketball the entire morning. He even returned home and was stunned by the amount of interest–evidenced by six missed calls.
"It was a little overwhelming at first," he said, "but it was interesting to see all of the different coaches who knew about me."
Rafferty knows that his offensive versatility is an attractive thing to college coaches. He adjusts depending on the opponent, either stretching them out with a decent jumper or using his strength on the interior. Gates, with whom he has built a strong relationship, noticed this quickly. The new assistant made one thing clear: His recruitment is carrying over to NU.
"He wants me to come up on an unofficial visit sometime soon," Rafferty said. "It was a brief conversation, but hopefully I get to talk to him again soon."
NU needs power forwards to rebuild its depth chart. It's promising to know that Gates has been aggressive on the trail. When Tavaras Hardy left, Collins filled the void with another able recruiter.
The 2015 recruiting picture–an important one for the program–is beginning to take shape. Rafferty, with continued strong play, could join the list of priorities. The local target is well aware of the NU program, and considers it an especially enticing option already.
"A big thing there is academics," Rafferty said. "Hopefully, if I do get an offer, I could help make that team better, and they could help me improve."
There are two good signs from this story. First, an intriguing power forward prospect is listening. Second, Armon Gates–in his early days at NU–is busy working.