June in Review

Reviewing the month of June in Northwestern sports.

It's been an action-packed few months for Northwestern athletics, and June was certainly no exception. Just as Wildcats fans were waiting for the official introduction of Brian James as the final assistant basketball coach, Tavaras Hardy left for Georgetown in a move few could have seen coming. Hardy's departure brought Armon Gates into Evanston to fill the final slot just before the summer recruiting season picked up—and did it ever pick up.

Things were much slower on the gridiron for Northwestern aside from the commitment of OLB Nathan Hall and the team's summer camp in the beginning of the month. As we head in the final weeks before practice begins, Purple Wildcats started ranking the 10 Most Valuable Wildcats going into the 2013 campaign.

With July already upon us, here is the Purple Wildcats Month in Review for June.

Musical chairs on the Welsh-Ryan sidelines

For Northwestern basketball, the only significant staffing question going into June was just when exactly Brian James would officially join Chris Collins' staff, which was more a technicality than a concern. Then, on June 5th, the news broke that Tavaras Hardy was leaving NU for Georgetown. Suddenly, the formerly stable staff was suddenly left with a gaping hole.

As Nick Medline and Steven Goldstein contextualized Hardy's special story and the significance of his departure, Collins began searching for his replacement. Just two days after Brian James was formally announced as a new coach, PW broke the news of former Loyola assistant Armon Gates' hiring.

With a full staff in place, Collins and company hit the recruiting trail—and they hit it hard and fast.

Freshmen adjustment

Hardy's departure forced the basketball staff to make some big picture changes in the pursuit of Collins' first recruiting class, as Medline explained in his appraisal of the biggest 2014 and 2015 targets at the time. Even so, he identified three new targets—PF Edward Morrow, PF Chris Egi and SF Joseph Toye (who PW profiled at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam)—who could eventually receive offers.

Medline talked to Toye–one rising target–about his visit to Northwestern, in which the three-star Whitney Young sophomore expressed confidence in Collins and the prospect of reuniting with former AAU teammate and fellow NU target Aaron Jordan. Other high-profile visits included four-star PF Vic Law, who appreciates the idea of potentially playing for NU, and Tyler Ulis, the highly sought after 2014 point guard who is up on the Wildcats.

For even more recruiting news than I can fit in this review, check out Medline's archive of Library of Congress-proportions on the forums.

The Halls of Northwestern

After the deluge of commitments in May, Nathan Hall stood as the lone 2014 pledge to accept his offer in June. The outside linebacker is the younger brother of Jimmy Hall. The younger Hall took about 24 hours before committing, and cited familiarity and comfort with the program as two major reasons he decided to follow in his brother's footsteps.

With 12 commits already, Northwestern will only accept three more barring extreme, unforeseeable circumstances, and will largely focus its efforts on securing the commitment of one defensive end, an incredibly important need for this recruiting class. As of right now, it seems like that spot could be filled by either Grant Blankenship or Noah Westerfield.

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