Part II: Where in the world is Chris Collins?

Our feature tracking the Northwestern coaching staff during the busy recruiting season...

Wednesday, July 17th

Northwestern sent three coaches to watch Josh Cunningham in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. The staff hoped to close on the four-star small forward early in the process. Cunningham has not changed his plans, however, and will commit after his senior season of high school.

I'll explain further: NU will still prioritize Cunningham, but the team should complete its four-man class prior to his decision. Some players from big-name AAU programs tend to hold out for additional offers. With his ability, he's likely to find an excellent landing spot. I'd be shocked if that was Evanston.

Chris Collins also watched Marcus Bartley in action. One important note: No one has been closed off, "filled up" on or phased out. (Recruiting terminology can get weird.) Oftentimes, coaches cool on players for various reasons. Despite some other point guard offers and priorities, the staff is very open to Bartley—who demonstrated some aggression this weekend. The three-star point guard has made strides on the offensive end during the past two months.

Brian James spent the weekend in Orlando, which made perfect sense. He probably watched the majority of NU's top 2015 targets, and given his scouting background, can provide thorough reports when the group reconvenes in the Welsh-Ryan Arena offices. James began to establish a relationship with 2015 power forward Evan Boudreaux, and has seen him play in each of the past two weekends.

Aside from James, though, the NU coaching staff began at one central location in Milwaukee. The rest of the week involved them catering to their favorite players and identifying new talent.

Thursday, July 18th

Patrick Baldwin bolted to Dallas sometime on Thursday to watch his project, 4-star power forward Makinde London. One positive arrived when London and Vic Law bonded during the Reebok event. Though the offer was reported prematurely (the coach actually needs to inform the player), London earned one from NU after impressing Collins last week.

Collins continued to follow through with one of his top targets, traveling to Indiana Top 100 competition on Thursday to watch Bryant McIntosh. The entire coaching staff has done an excellent job in their recruitment of McIntosh; I'm optimistic on that front.

Gates stayed in Milwaukee for perhaps the most important development. He watched 2014 shooting guard Wade Baldwin light it up against Mac Irvin Fire on Thursday afternoon, which cemented him as a realistic target. It may be too late, sure, but there's a decent chance they'll try.

Friday, July 19th

Chris Collins–in another ridiculous weekend of travel–returned to Milwaukee on Friday morning and watched Cody Schwartz. The 2015 power forward visited campus about three weeks ago, and believes in the direction of this program. It seemed an inspired move to watch Schwartz. Collins could have easily wasted the relatively quiet morning away, but instead concentrated on the next class of recruits. Schwartz played fairly well, and is more than deserving of an offer in future months. Keep that name in mind.

Baldwin stayed in Dallas, presumably to watch Texas big man Ben Lammers again. He also maintained contact with an entirely new prospect. After receiving some tip from a coaching friend, Baldwin watched under-recruited Colorado power forward Zach Braxton last week in Indianapolis. The guy kept top-ranked class of 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman in check, and Baldwin then promised to send more coaches to watch him in Las Vegas.

Then, in another burst of creativity, Collins went back to watch McIntosh in a different venue. McIntosh played in Cincinnati the next day, and Collins doesn't want to miss anything. He and Gates watched McIntosh score 20 points, dish out six assists and complete an alley-oop slam. McIntosh later praised Collins for his recruiting style and sense of humor. You might not know it immediately, but this humor and good-natured attitude has endeared Collins and the rest of this coaching staff to promising recruits.

Saturday, July 20th

Collins returned to Milwaukee for the third time (that's commitment) and watched 2014 power forward Tory Miller. Miller originally knew Patrick Baldwin from his Missouri State days, calling him a "cool dude."

The New Hampton (N.H.) product demonstrated a skillset never before seen at NU. Miller gets to the free-throw line, bullies defenders on the inside—all while being an excellent floor leader. He would be an interesting player to offer, though the status is uncertain as of now.

Gates stayed in Cincinnati to lead McIntosh's recruitment. Otherwise, Saturday and Sunday were relatively static. The door closed on some, but has opened for others. Why haven't I posted any sort of definitive "recruiting board" in the past two weeks? It literally changes every day.

They're working as hard as they possibly can. Collins understands the nuances of recruiting. Throw any semblance of concern out the window; this will be a very good class. They'll make it happen.

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