2010 targets committing – elsewhere

With the commitment of Jershon Cobb, Northwestern has already landed one of the biggest recruits in school history. But the three-star guard is currently the only member of the 2010, and there are a handful of players who the Wildcats were recruiting who have since committed elsewhere. We know Cobb is in tow, but here are some former NU targets that have opted for other schools.

It's been a while since there was anything noteworthy happening on the Northwestern hoops recruiting trail. Not since late September, when three-star Decatur, Ga., guard Jershon Cobb committed, has there been much to talk about.

Well, that's not entirely true – there has been some news. Several Northwestern targets have indeed made commitments. It's just that they have pledged their services elsewhere. And with schools around the Big Ten filling out their 2010 recruiting scorecards, NU has seen many once-upon-a-time targets commit to other schools.

Now, Cobb's commitment was/is a big deal. Rated the No. 50 shooting guard in the nation, the 6-3, 170-pound Cobb is one of the biggest gets in Northwestern history. Cincinnati, Boston College and Georgia were among the schools recruiting him. Count him as a catch. A big one.

But at the moment, the 2010 recruiting class starts and ends with Cobb. Here is why:

Let's start in the Big Ten.* Former NU recruit Josh Gasser, a 6-4 combo guard, committed to Wisconsin within a week of Cobb's commitment, putting the kibosh on what could have been a lethal backcourt combo with Cobb. Gasser, a three-star prospect, held offers from across the nation – Arizona State, Maryland, Creighton. But the Port Washington, Wis., native decided to stay close to home, depriving NU of a potentially killer guard class.

* Staying in the Big Ten a moment longer, Northwestern has a pretty big game against Michigan on Sunday. The Cats visit the 8-6 Wolverines, who are 2-1 in the Big Ten, in what could be a pivotal game in NU's season. There is no reason to push the panic button – after all, NU is 11-3. But the Wildcats have lost their first two conference games, including a discouraging 21-point setback to Michigan State last week.

And starting 0-3 could be potentially devastating for NU's NCAA Tournament hopes. Is it a little early to be talking about the Tourney? Sure. But not THAT early. Plus, No. 17 Wisconsin comes to Evanston on Wednesday, and No. 4 Purdue comes on Saturday, and there's a trip to Columbus after that, and then Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State are the next three games. So NU can't drop any of its more winnable games. And even though Michigan started the season in the top 15 and recently downed then-No. 15 OSU, this is unfortunately one it NU's more winnable games for the foreseeable future. (For more about how badly NU can ill-afford to lose this game, click here. And for more about NU's excruciating schedule, click here.)

Back to the recruiting. An equally big didn't-get was Pe'Shon Howard, a 6-2 guard from Mouth of Wilson, Va. A source told Purple Reign in the fall that Howard was one of NU's bigger targets at the time – discussed at length in this article – but the three-star point guard committed to Maryland on Jan. 2.

Further depleting the incoming crop of guards was 6-2 Rayvonte Rice committing to Drake. A source told Purple Reign that Northwestern was recruiting Rice, a two-star prospect from Champaign. And even though he may not have been as coveted as Gasser, he is a target who has committed to a school not named Northwestern.

Six-foot Springfield guard Karl Madison is another player who will never don NU purple. Like Rice, Madison wasn't a class-defining prospect, but also like Rice, he will take his services to Drake. Now, Northwestern never offered Madison, so you can't count this as a huge blow. But coupled with Gasser and Howard and Rice, NU's guard targets are scattering.

Along the front court, Northwestern missed out on Griffin McKenzie, who at one time held an offer from the Cats. The 6-8 forward, who committed to Xavier, is reputed to have some big-time athletic ability – and a source told Purple Reign that athleticism on the wing is a priority for NU's coaching staff for the 2010 class. Alas, the source also confirmed that NU had cooled on McKenzie by the time he committed in early September and eventually withdrew its scholarship offer. So again, not a huge hit, just part of a accumulation of little ones.

Wisconsin also nabbed guard/forward Duje Dukan from Deerfield, Ill. Like Rice and Madison, the 6-9 Dukan is a player Northwestern was interested in – but not enough to pull the trigger on an offer. Dukan's high school coach, Brett Just, said that Northwestern was paying Dukan a lot of attention and that NU coaches had been at most of this games last summer. "He's definitely big on their radar," Just opined in the fall. However, the source with knowledge of NU's targets never gushed about Dukan. Whether or not the Cats were ever hot on him, they're not anymore.

The slow-going on the recruiting trail is a bit more glaring considering the other classes being put together by Big Ten foes – including ones that don't always light up the recruiting trail. Minnesota already has a pair of three-star recruits committed; Iowa a has four- and three-star prospect; Wisconsin also has the four-star/three-star combo.

And the more traditional powers are upholding their rep: Illinois has one five-star and two four-stars – all of whom are from Illinois. Michigan State has one five-star and three four-stars. And Ohio State may lead the Big Ten in the Eye-Popping 2010 Class category: The Buckeyes have six commits, including two five-star players, two four-star players and a three-star player. Yikes.

Of course, the number of stars that Scout.com recruiting analysts give players don't mean everything. After all, freshman Alex Marcotullio wasn't a big recruit, and he is ninth in the conference in three-point percentage and 10th in steals per game despite playing 18 minutes. And John Shurna wasn't an overly-ballyhooed high school player, either, and he's top three in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding.

So to recap: Plenty could change between now and whenever the 2010 class is wrapped up. But plenty has changed with NU targets – former NU targets – already.

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