NU target Ash drops 21 in win

PurpleWildcats.com was on hand to watch Northwestern offer Jordan Ash and his St. Joseph's HS (Ill.) team knock of De La Salle Wednesday evening. More on an entertaining and telling game inside.

CHICAGO — De La Salle moved to the press and everything changed. After several minutes of open lanes and uncontested perimeter looks, St. Joseph's HS (Ill.) needed to audible, and quickly.

Down 65-63 with the game fading, they went back to junior guard Jordan Ash. The prominent Northwestern target slipped through traffic, drew contact in the paint, and flipped in a left-handed finger roll.

"It was all about attacking the basket," Ash said. "I wanted to get in. I got hit, and I put enough English on it to get it to roll in."

He added the ensuing free throw, St. Joe's added another in the closing seconds, and the Chargers left with an impressive road victory that highlighted its star players. Ash scored 21 points, elite recruit Glynn Watson poured in 19, and budding power forward Nick Rakocevic added 10 in the win.

In terms of sheer talent, the St. Joe's trio outweighed the strong De La Salle tandem of Karl Harris and Brandon Hutton. But the Meteors attacked Watson with an extended 3-2 zone press that disrupted their rhythm.

A lead that had once reached nine disappeared, with the Chargers committing unforced turnovers and stretching their offense too far from the basket.

"We didn't have a problem breaking the press," Ash said. "It was more about executing in the half court."

Consider it a learning experience that they escaped. With the score at 65-63 and time winding down, Hutton drove the basket for a layup that would have put the game away. Instead, Rakocevic altered his shot — which rimmed out and led to Ash's game-tying transition bucket.

Throughout the game, Ash served as a steadying force. He's a leader for legendary St. Joe's coach Gene Pingatore, making wise decisions with the ball and avoiding turnovers.

Better, Ash appears to have improved certain parts of his game since the summer. He looked comfortable from the perimeter – knocking down a pair of triples – and showed some increased aggression on offense.

He's an important part of Northwestern's 2015 combo guard search, which also includes four-star prospect Aaron Jordan and Kansas native Anthony Bonner. On Oct. 20, he picked up a Northwestern offer from Chris Collins — a telling sign given how few offers this staff likes to give out.

"I really like Northwestern," he said. "It's a great school. They've got a great staff and a good 2014 class coming in and I like what's going on there too."

Ash said he's focused on a successful junior season, with his recruitment "pretty chill" for the time being. He (wisely) didn't list his current top schools in order to avoid leaving someone out. Still, he outlined some of the prerequisite question he'll ask before arriving at a decision.

"Can I see myself going there every day? Will I fit in with the team? Will I trust the coaching staff?"

Part one, for any recruit, is to make yourself desirable to college coaches. If that goes well, part two is taking your pick.

With his improved play – and perhaps a flair for the dramatic – Jordan Ash is well on his way.


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