Patrick Baldwin recently heard from a coaching friend, who suggested he watch said power forward in action. The Northwestern assistant followed through, and that turned out perfectly. In the matchup, Zach Braxton stared down Zimmerman and finally earned some attention from high-major coaches.
"I knew Coach Baldwin was going to be watching me that weekend," Braxton said. "A family friend had reached out to him, so we knew he'd be coming out."
Despite the inherent pressure, Braxton excelled against Zimmerman and became the fastest rising NU target. With his traditional power forward skillset, he fits one of the team's pressing needs. It required an excellent game, though, for him to break onto the national scene.
"Baldwin said: 'We've heard about you. We'd like to have the whole staff come and see you in Vegas,'" Braxton said.
NU and Marquette were two major-conference schools that benefited from being in attendance. This re-energized Braxton's recuitment, which was once limited to schools such as Weber State and Wyoming. Last week, he picked up an offer from UNC-Greensboro.
Now, with a strong showing in Las Vegas next weekend, he could receive better offers. Having the entire NU coaching staff in attendance is nothing to scoff at; they might have just identified their sleeper.
"[Coach Baldwin] said he could see me as someone strong and skilled playing in the post for Northwestern," Braxton said. "They need a guy like that coming in."
Braxton said he looks forward to earning offers. Some prospects watch their respective recruitments intensify in July. Here's an example of one player who's peaking at the right juncture.
"I just have to keep the same intensity when I play," he said. "And make sure they see everything I can do without trying to do too much, by playing within myself."
An excellent game in Indianapolis finally gave Braxton exposure in front of coaches from the East Coast and Midwest. He earned his attention the right way and he's ready to keep the momentum going.
One week ago, Patrick Baldwin had little idea just how well Braxton could play. It's the beauty of the July evaluation period. You can see for yourself.