It prompted me to re-evaluate my own assumptions about Northwestern recruiting (the best kind of writing, Jeremy) and forced me to look at the 2015 picture for evidence.
Woo mentioned the fairly selective and patient approach exhibited by Collins in the early going. The caveat is this: Northwestern cannot be Duke. It never will be.
Yet somehow, in mere months, Collins made Northwestern an attractive offer. Just look at the current results. Woo never used the word, but "leverage" works. Collins "leveraged" Skelly into his commitment because this is his Wildcats roster, and if you're not on board, he'll move forward.
Funnily enough, I expect there to be even more patience next year. Collins arrived well into the recruiting process and needed to work quickly. I posed the question: "Can Collins salvage his first recruiting class?" after Tavaras Hardy left. That's a joke in retrospect. He will.
But the point that stands is the idea of Collins expediting the recruiting process in order to land players this year. He couldn't sell them on "his" Northwestern over the years, and although Hardy helped to ease the transition, he faced some deficits in the new job. We ignore those in evaluating his work. He's done exceptionally well regardless.
In these past couple of weeks, eager schools have offered several 2015 prospects. With the current focus falling into place for most schools, including Northwestern (with Makinde London, Tyler Ulis and Bryant McIntosh the primary targets), many are beginning to look forward and shore up holes in later years.
It's very common. But for Collins, the mindset is this: First things first.
The Wildcats re-extended offers to Evan Boudreaux and Jordan Ash, but in my opinion, those were intended to communicated continued interest with the new coaching staff. (Regardless of who holds offers, the group can easily cool or intensify their recruitments of those two players.)
So they bide their time during the process. Every time that immensely talented local shooting guard Aaron Jordan picks up another offer, I cringe, knowing that NU might slide in the pursuit of an attainable Plainfield East target.
But the approach remains: Prove something. Four-star small forward Josh Cunningham worked for weeks to earn his NU offer despite clearly being worthy of one. And aside from Boudreaux and Ash, NU has to my knowledge held off on any other offers for the class of 2015—a pretty admirable job given all of the emerging talent.
They could have rushed to re-offer Canadian power forward Chris Egi, but they didn't. They could have forced one on Wisconsin "stretch four" Cody Schwartz, and also refrained. The timing of an offer does mean something. It rekindled Bryant McIntosh's interest in Purdue. It does provide some boost in a school's pitch, and Collins knows to be careful by timing it wisely.
Here's an interesting bit: During these July evaluation periods, Collins and his staff may have watched 2015 prospects as intensely as they did 2014 ones. My job is to cover the more immediate targets, understandably, and some of those key long-term players continue to fly under the radar. (One tip: They appeared to repeatedly watch Kevin Puryear and Jimmy Whitt of AAU squad KC Run GMC.)
That authentic patience manifests itself not now, but later. Collins' second class might be the true groundbreaking unit. They undoubtedly have dozens of targets filed away in the offices ready to targets. There's some value, though, to this calmness and anticipation.
Their approach to the class of 2015 does not veer from Jeremy's explanation. It only provides greater evidence of Collins' conviction.
NU will make it. That requires an extensive process. And most importantly, there's no need to hurry.