Griffin flying low no more

After his performance on the AAU circuit in June and July, Griffin McKenzie's list of two offers immediately swelled. Now, with options abound, McKenzie is making visits to the remaining contenders -- including Northwestern, which McKenzie visited last week. Inside, PR talks with 6-8 forward about his visit and his impression of the program.

It took a while, but after that, it took no time at all.

OK, let me try to make sense of that.

Known about but hardly a hot commodity, 2010 forward Griffin McKenzie was flying under the radar a bit – especially for a 6-foot-8, three-star prospect.

At the start of the summer, the Cincinnati native had only two offers. His recruitment was going sloth-slow. Hence, it took a while for teams to start offering.

But once summer hit, it took no time at all. Because following a stellar June, McKenzie's recruitment blew up in a big way.

In the span of a month, he received 14 offers. From two to 16 in a matter of weeks.

"It was definitely a crazy month for me," McKenzie said in an interview with Purple Reign. "My phone was ringing off the hook – different coaches and friends and family wanting to talk to me. It was a crazy month and a great experience."

Luckily for Northwestern, the Wildcats remain one of four teams still standing in the crowded bid for McKenzie. He confirmed as much in an interview Sunday with Purple Reign, but also – and more importantly – with a trip last week to Evanston.

The trip, according McKenzie, did nothing to dampen his feelings toward NU.

"(The trip) went great," McKenzie said. "I got to see everything from the campus to downtown Chicago. I got to hang out with the players, meet academic advisers, I got to watch film with coach Carmody, met coaching staff that I hadn't met before….

"I had never been to Chicago before. I love the big city. That was the first thing they showed me. We went downtown and ate there. We saw the Hancock building, I got to see what Chicago has to offer. I think I would love Chicago. I think it would be a great experience, going to school so close to there."

NU, like so many other schools, didn't offer McKenzie until he was once again healthy following a back injury that came on last winter. After taking time off to recover, McKenzie impressed in spring workouts. And he solidified his standing as a big-time recruit by excelling in the AAU circuit this summer.

"My recruitment really exploded during the first week of July," McKenzie said. "A lot of schools kept interested in me while I was injured, and then they heard I was able to play so they were ready to offer. They weren't allowed to come to tournaments until the summer, but when they saw me it kind of got crazy."

The other contenders for McKenzie are Wake Forest and Vanderbilt – two schools that McKenzie will visit in the coming weeks – as well as hometown Xavier. Schools that offered but are no longer serious options are Cincinnati, Tennessee and Harvard.

While McKenzie is seriously considering his A-10, ACC and SEC alternatives, his recent trip to Northwestern seemed to impress.

"I'm really the type of guy who would enjoy the big city," said the 210-pounder. "It would be a great setting, but at the same time Northwestern isn't an urban campus, which could be overwhelming. It's not in the city, but the city is still accessible."

McKenzie liked the basketball – and not just the setting – as well.

"I think I would fit in great with the team," he said. "The guys that I met are really the type of guys that I could fit in great with on and off the court.

"I was really pleased with coach Carmody's explanation of the offense, how he sees me playing and what spot on the court I would be playing. I think it's a great fit athletically for me."

McKenzie, who cites his versatility as his greatest asset, said he likes the idea of being free to dribble, face-up and shoot from the outside – three things he said Carmody stressed when they met.

While McKenzie indeed had to wait awhile before most schools offered, those schools won't have to wait too long for McKenzie. After completing his four-school list of campus tours the first week of September, McKenzie said he would be making a decision within a couple weeks.

If the Cats can land McKenzie, it would be a huge step toward locking up a stellar 2010 class.

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