Northwestern making major push for Ash

Looking to shore up his backcourt and begin his 2015 recruiting class, Northwestern coach Chris Collins is making an intense push for local combo guard and longterm priority Jordan Ash.

"Northwestern head coach Chris Collins is front and center for Loyola and St. Joseph's tonight," high school basketball writer Scott Phillips tweeted this weekend. Things like these are becoming the standard refrain.

Collins is making his presence felt on the local circuit. After landing Chicago prospects Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey as part of his first banner recruiting class, he's continuing to establish his mark and fulfill his promise.

This presence is one thing; the success is another. Like last year, there is purpose behind his action. This weekend, he watched St. Joseph's to see three-star combo guard Jordan Ash who's quickly evolved into the team's almost undisputed top priority.

Ash has been the longest-standing recruit in recent NU history. Former assistant coach Tavaras Hardy, now at Georgetown, spotted Ash at a young age. Bill Carmody offered, Chris Collins re-extended the offer, and is now making an impressive and sustained pitch.

Ash is from the Northwestern feeder Illinois Wolves AAU team, which brought guys including Dave Sobolewski, John Shurna and Nate Taphorn to Evanston. With Wolves head coach Mike Mullins apparently a major proponent of the NU experience, the Wildcats have an immediate edge with Ash.

They also, again, boast the opportunity of playing time. Whereas 2014 point guard commit Bryant McIntosh was a foundational piece—and someone who could lead a tournament run as soon as next season—Ash would be the guy to complete an already strong backcourt.

Many NU recruiting analysts thought that Collins would cool his pursuit of guards after landing Johnnie Vassar, the rapidly improving California floor general. Instead, it intensified, with Ash representing an effort to have three usable point guards—perhaps with two on the floor at all times.

It's a strict departure from the current setup, with Sobolewski, the only true point guard, basically benched for good in meaningful situations. Collins, despite some surprising but fleeting early success, wants to shore up his backcourt and add young depth to his team.

They appear to love Ash. On his recruitment throughout the summer, and certainly throughout the winter season, the entire Northwestern coaching staff is in communication with the local guard.

There are only two scholarships available for the 2015 recruiting class, given that they are likely to take a big man transfer when the market opens this offseason (to replace Chier Ajou).

This, in any recruiting situation, means that they'll target more specific players. That top list, unless I'm forgetting someone, is currently restricted to Ash and power forward targets Dererk Pardon and Henry Ellenson.

It is worth noting, as the recruiting calendar starts to flip toward commit season, that there is much more on the way for NU basketball. The future at stake, Collins is still looking close to home.

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