The hype surrounding Northwestern basketball is real. Will it translate to actual success on the court? Well, it almost doesn’t even matter.
As a team that has never made the NCAA Tournament, or even given the rest of the Big Ten much cause to be concerned, the buzz surrounding Northwestern is helping change the program’s culture.
Of course, the process will take time, most likely multiple years. But coach Chris Collins is laying the groundwork to mold the Wildcats into a formidable presence in the Big Ten. One way he is doing so is through recruitment.
Take a look at the 2014 recruiting class ESPN.com currently ranks 23rd in the nation:
SF VIC LAW (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita)
The 4-star recruit is arguably Northwestern’s biggest commit in history. At 6-foot-6, Law brings versatility and size on both ends of the court. Besides being a player who can be expected to contribute immediately, his commitment is a symbol of the change Collins is bringing to the team. Under former coach Bill Carmody, Northwestern struggled recruiting players from talent-rich Chicago. It will take someone more highly touted than Law to get the city’s top players to consider Northwestern over schools such as Duke and Kentucky, but it is certainly a positive start.
SG SCOTT LINDSEY (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick)
Lindsey joins the Wildcats’ surplus of guards. The 6-foot-5 guard has excellent size at the 2-spot and is a good spot-up shooter in transition. Many believe he is one of Illinois’ highest rising players, thanks to a stellar summer with his AAU travel team last year. Lindsey, a bit of a late-bloomer, is continuing to improve.
PG BRYANT McINTOSH (Greensburg, Ind./Greensburg)
According to McIntosh, coach Collins and assistant coach Armon Gates told him he was the only point guard they were recruiting. Fortunately for the Wildcats, McIntosh returned the love. He has a high basketball IQ and is patient with the ball in his hands.
PF GAVIN SKELLY (Cleveland, Ohio/Westlake)
The forward’s 6-foot-8, 225-pound body gives Northwestern some added size on defense. A solid rebounder, Skelly can certainly help the Big Ten’s worst rebounding team. In addition to being able to finish inside, he can also knock down jumpers from 17 feet.
PG JOHNNIE VASSAR (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./Jserra Catholic)
The latest player to commit, Vassar, has serious potential. The speedy guard is explosive on offense, which should give the Wildcats’ attack a whole new dimension. He is also a skilled dribbler and is capable of throwing it down above the rim. Though his outside shooting could use some work, Vassar’s driving ability should get him some good looks at the basket.