— In an emotional video released by NUSports, senior guard James Montgomery III finally earned a scholarship. Chris Collins labeled him the standout from the team's first 12 practices. Montgomery apparently began to meet his potential while cementing himself as the team's top perimeter defender. Potential hyperbole aside, Collins sent an appealing message to his team: Work for the opportunity, and it will find you. As the starting lineup finally takes shape, with Lumpkin/Taphorn perhaps the most intriguing battle, these players can fight for enhanced roles on a less-than-stellar team.
— I'd like to shelve some of the pent-up enthusiasm behind Nate Taphorn—now rumored to be the starting power forward. I've heard excellent things, like everyone, but my sentiment was this: He can contribute by playing solid minutes. Starting the true freshman kills some on-court experience, with Taphorn an undersized ‘4' and undersized player in general. He'll need to bulk up and adjust to college game pace. So unless he can create shots and nail three-pointers on a consistent basis, it might be best to let him earn his role off the bench.
On the 2015 guard search
This weekend, Northwestern offered 2015 guard Jordan Ash, as the new staff continues to monitor yet another Illinois Wolves (AAU) product. The Wolves have produced Northwestern standouts John Shurna and Dave Sobolewski, with Nate Taphorn also an alum of the program. His AAU background, though, can be essential to understanding NU's recruitment of him. The Wildcats already found their starting point guard in Bryant McIntosh; they need to surround him with capable off-ball pieces. Four-star prospect Glynn Watson mans the point for the Wolves, with Ash gaining some combo experience on a guard-heavy team.
It continues a clear recruiting trend for 2015: NU wants to shore up its depth at forward–even looking at top-50 player Henry Ellenson–and then add another guard. This August, NU was quick to offer Meanstreets (AAU) perimeter threat Ryan Fazekas. Then, they finally offered Aaron Jordan, who might be the perfect two-guard fit for Northwestern. (Jordan already holds offers from Big Ten programs like Indiana and Wisconsin.) Regardless, everything's crystalizing as another recruiting cycle begins.