The credit goes to assistant Patrick Baldwin for bringing Skelly to campus in June. Skelly developed an especially strong relationship with the high-upside big man. Baldwin, I'm sure, hoped that Skelly would prove his worth on the AAU circuit during July.
Skelly did that, and more. He can spread the floor with excellent passing ability. He can sink mid-range jump shots with his well-rounded game. More importantly, he boasts impressive stamina for a 6'9 player.
The Westlake (Ohio) power forward ran cross-country in high school. He heads the zone press on his high school team, falling into the "versatile" label that this coaching staff absolutely loves.
And yes, I posted some far-flung feature about "The Search for Ryan Kelly" about two weeks ago. Skelly is that guy. He's obviously not as good as Kelly–at least not yet–but will present matchup difficulties in the future.
He's more of a 3-4 than a 4-5 guy, and is really "oversized" for his position. Still, he boasts an impressive repertoire of post moves, and seems more of the traditional power forward than some other NU targets. It's really a step in the right direction for fans who want more "big bodies." If Skelly adds some pounds to his frame, expect a formidable power forward option in future season.
You can't separate his mindset from the discussion. Skelly is among the most popular players on the AAU circuit and emerged as a vocal leader. His teammates love Skelly's energy and enthusiasm, and are only supported by his ability to find players for open shots.
I can say this without pause: After spending time on the trail during evaluations, I sincerely believe that Skelly was the right choice. They've looked at between 15 and 20 power forward targets for this one spot. They watched some high 3-star talents and spurned them for this Ohio power forward that slipped the attention of some high-major schools. Skelly is good enough. Oh, yes he is. Schools like Butler, Notre Dame and Stanford may have considered following with offers. NU, again, got there first.
This is what I believe: Gavin Skelly will be–at the very least–a strong role player for Northwestern basketball. He will be among the fan favorites all four years. And he will do anything possible to contribute with his vigor and attitude.