Loyola past primes Gates for NU recruiting

More updates from the July evaluation period......

On top of being an exciting young coach, Armon Gates brought necessary connections to Northwestern upon his arrival. The former Loyola assistant built powerful relationships with several local players, and then carried them over to Evanston.

Though there is this tendency to glorify the vague idea of "Chicago ties," this situation extends even further. Gates literally recruited the very players NU did. He became another familiar face on a coaching staff hoping to have staying power.

Loyola, the constant underdog, rarely appeared to be serious suitors for top-caliber players. Its overall reputation lags behind. Still, Gates' background allowed him to cultivate relationships with the best players. It's how budding top recruiters begin their success stories.

Chris Collins, Patrick Baldwin and Armon Gates have established recruiting strongholds already. Each speaks with dozens of prospects on a regular basis. While Baldwin recruits the south and Collins works to cover his bases, Gates made an immediate impact on this team with his recruiting—primarily in three major cases.

Vic Law

Well, you've heard more than enough about the four-star small forward commit from local St. Rita's. Law credited the entire staff for helping with this recruitment. It went beyond his attraction to the Collins style of play, as Law felt comfortable with the entire group.

You can imagine he might have been ecstatic when learning that Gates took over at NU. Gates was the first coach to offer him at Loyola, and that entire staff seemed very strong to Vic.

Gates was a crucial component of this thrilling commitment story. The entire staff has contributed to making fans believe in the future product. It's more than just Collins succeeding from day one.

Tyler Ulis

Gates was also the first to offer Tyler Ulis, then a polarizing under-recruited point guard. He evidently understood his talent at a point when not many did. Ulis had a unique recruitment, but earned all of his current respect.

NU faces stiff competition in the Ulis recruitment. Many tend to out Michigan State or Iowa as the perceived frontrunner in his excellent list of seven. Still, NU can benefit in similar ways to Law. It's all about comfort.

Northwestern so badly needs at least one point guard. With Ulis, optimism would fly through the roof. The undersized point guard can facilitate with the best, and would completely alter perception of the program.

Mack Mercer

Well, here's another one. Gates recruited the 6-9 stretch four from Plymouth (Ind.) at Loyola and then carried similar attention to NU. Though I currently consider him a very fringe offer, Mercer could be an ideal piece if he developed some defensive skills.

Mercer is facing some heavy recruitment from NU at the moment. They like their "versatile" stretch-four players, though that doesn't seem like a particularly pressing need.

They do like Mercer, but could expand their search to accommodate more interior threats. I'm a big fan of some 2015 true four-spot players, but that's a while off. Mercer could play his way into an offer, and Gates would be overseeing his recruitment all the while.

Stay tuned for more updates during the July evaluation period.

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