Sheehey shifts focus

The Wildcats were among the first teams to offer Florida wing Will Sheehey this summer. But recent offers from Indiana and Vanderbilt – coupled with a pair of official visits he's already taken – cast some serious doubt on whether or not NU is still in the mix. Purple Reign takes a closer look at how NU went from a school Sheehey "would like to visit" to a trip that he not make at all.

My, how things have changed.

It wasn't too long ago that Northwestern was one of Will Sheehey's more attractive offers. Indeed, as recently as August, when Purple Reign chatted with Sheehey – a 6-foot-6 wing out of Sagemont (Fla.) High – Northwestern seemed like a shoe-in for an official visit. And definitely some serious consideration.

"As of right now, I'd like to take a visit (to NU)," Sheehey, a three-star recruit, said in that August chat with Purple Reign. "My high school coach and I talked and we think it's a good idea." recruiting analyst Evan Daniels corroborated that notion, writing in another early-August article, "According to the talented wing, he'll be taking official visits to Stanford and Northwestern for sure. The other three visits, which he wants to take, are undecided."

But that was then. Now things have changed.

Sure, Sheehey is still undecided – he's yet to commit or even take all of his official visits. That much is the same. What has changed, though, according to Sheehey's high school coach, is the pecking order of Sheehey's suitors. A list that Northwestern seems to have slipped down.

In early August, the Wildcats looked pretty good sitting next some of the other schools offering Sheehey: Bucknell, St. Bonaventure, Northeastern. Hardly your blue blood programs.

But now Sheehey, who averaged 24 points and 10 boards last season with South Fork High – he has since transferred to Sagemont – has more schools to choose from. And there is a great deal more cachet to the recent offers than there was with the Bison or Bonnies or Colonials.

Suddenly the Hoosiers and Commodores and Hurricanes are in the picture. And it looks like the Wildcats may have been pushed to the fringes. Having already taken official visits to Stanford and G.W., Sheehey's official-visit tour is next headed to Nashville and Bloomington for stops at Vandy and IU.

"He's going to go visit Indiana on November 6th through the 8th," Ross told Daniels, saying nothing of NU, adding: "It looks like he's also going to take an official to Vanderbilt. They offered him. He'll go Halloween weekend."

According to Hoosier Nation's John Decker, the Hoosiers waited until recently to offer Sheehey because they wanted to wait to see what positions would still be of need. With wing being one of those needs – and with Indiana being Indiana – the Hoosiers have vaulted near the top of Sheehey's list, according to Sagemont coach Adam Ross.

"He was excited to find out about Indiana's interest," Ross told Hoosier Nation. "He's one of those kids that knows a lot about history. He knows about Indiana's history and he's excited. He knows Coach Crean is one of the best in the business and anytime someone like that shows interest it's big."

Daniels also reported that Sheehey is bound for an unofficial visit to Miami, and Decker wrote that a potential trip to Michigan is in the works as well. So even if that trek to the U is unofficial, should Sheehey stop by Ann Arbor he will have exhausted all five of his potential officials: Stanford, Vandy, Indiana, Michigan and George Washington.

And no Northwestern.

If NU miss on Sheehey – which looks increasingly likely – it will get really interesting to see what happens with the 2010 recruits. Sheehey would mark the second athletic three-star prospect to spurn an offer from the Cats after Port Washington, Wisc., guard Josh Gasser committed to Wisconsin* at the end of September.

* Interestingly, Wisconsin was late to offer Gasser, just as Indiana, the new apparent front-runner for Sheehey, was late to offer him. Wisconsin didn't offer Gasser until mid-August. And even when it did, there was a catch: Gasser would have to walk-on his freshman season, and would not be given a scholarship until the next season. Gasser did end up getting a full scholarship after a Badger quit the team, but still, NU had long ago offered.

And as Decker reported, "Ross said the IU staff had been aware of Sheehey's abilities thanks to his play on the Florida Rams AAU team this past summer, but they were unsure about which position they wanted to target for their remaining 2010 scholarships." So even though Northwestern has beaten teams to the punch, they are unfortunately getting passed later on.

Still, it is conjecture to say that Northwestern is no longer in the running for Sheehey. Purple Reign has heard nothing from NU sources that says they are done recruiting him. And who knows, maybe he'll swing by Evanston after he Bloomington.

But right now, despite a deft early offer, it looks – looks – like Sheehey has other things on his mind than Evanston.

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