2016 PF Nick Rakocevic fielding NU interest

2016 power forward Nick Rakocevic of St. Joe's (Ill.), the best player in-state for his age, is beginning to pick up Northwestern interest. Find out more from Rakocevic in this PW Insider Update.

CHICAGO— The last time PurpleWildcats.com watched Nick Rakocevic, he was outstanding. On Friday against St. Rita's, the St. Joe's power forward only cemented his value.

Rakocevic scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting while adding nine rebounds in the 67-64 win. Some of that production came against Northwestern commit Vic Law, who failed to match up well with the 6-10 prospect.

Now, of course, the ambitious NU coaching staff is beginning its pursuit of Rakocevic: "Coach Collins has been keeping tabs on me," he said. Though the Wildcats have been slow to look at later classes—much like their football counterparts—they will obviously enter the mix for Rakocevic.

It would make sense. In desperate need of long-term big men, NU could use Rakocevic and his ability to spread the floor. He can play the traditional four-man role, or perhaps five-man in the future, while looking comfortable and coordinated on the perimeter.

A positive for NU is that Chris Collins continues to make strong local inroads. Those add up, and have helped him build a quick reputation on the local circuit. He's maintained a strong presence, and that extends to Rakocevic's teammate Jordan Ash.

The Wildcats are in excellent position to land Ash, who had a quieter night offensively but still made his presence felt. The 2015 combo guard skied for a dunk attempt before being fouled, and worked well on St. Rita's forward Charles Matthews. Rakocevic, of course, praised Ash for his all-around game.

"He's a great player," Rakocevic said. "There's no question about it. Even in his off games, he brings stuff to us on the defensive end, and he shuts guys down. It's been great to play with him and Glynn Watson."

That Ash-Watson-Rakocevic combo came back to beat St. Rita's on Friday, with Rakocevic arguably the difference maker. While Watson carried the offense, no one could match Rakocevic and his strong inside game.

Most impressive, he's even comfortable in adjusting to his weaknesses. Not the biggest player—still a work in progress—Rakocevic compensates with hard-nosed play. That's not common for sophomores, who can be timid at times.

"I'm not the biggest guy out there strength-wise so you just got to stay aggressive," he said. Guys like Myles Carter, he's got the strength on me, so I just have to be aggressive with him at all times. It takes a toll on you but you've just got to keep playing."

And speaking of aggressive: Wait until Northwestern, soon, begins its full-fledged pursuit of Nick Rakocevic. That, too, might be hard to stop.

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