For Northwestern, the narrative doesn’t change from year to year. Whether fair or unfair, the same question always arises: When will the Wildcats finally make the Big Dance?
The frustration rises with each fruitless March.
Nonetheless, with the hiring of Chris Collins in 2013, hope has sprung anew. The results haven’t yet matched the optimism (Collins is just 49-48 at NU), but with improved recruiting and genuine star athletes in the lineup, it seems just a matter of time before Northwestern can finally break the postseason curse.
Of course, if Northwestern is to continue to head in the right direction, the program’s recruiting efforts must keep things going. Here’s a look at Northwestern’s recruiting over the last few years and some suggestions for what the Wildcats need for a quality 2017 class.
As mentioned, Northwestern has turned the corner over the last few years on the recruiting trail. Admittedly, it doesn’t hold up against elite competition, but it’s a massive improvement in comparison to most of the program’s history, when it primarily settled for mid-major prospects or the Big Ten’s leftovers.
All told, Northwestern not only added four-star prospects Aaron Falzon and Vic Law over the last three classes, but it’s also added Bryant McIntosh and Rapolas Ivanauskas. No single class has been elite, but the 2014 class did finish in the top 50, per 247Sports.
Primary 2017 Recruiting Needs
With only two seniors set to graduate after this season (Sanjay Lumpkin and Nathan Taphorn), there aren’t any crucial areas for Northwestern to address in its 2017 recruiting class. With the entire starting lineup and all the key reserves set to return, there isn’t exactly an emergent need for Chris Collins and his staff to find players.
However, even with these minimal losses, Northwestern will be getting thinner on the wing. Plus, with Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh graduating the following year, getting potential replacements in place isn’t a bad idea. In short, the 2017 class is a group that will be more focused on the long term than the short term.
2017 Recruiting To Date
At the time of publication, Northwestern has no commitments in its 2017 recruiting class, despite the Wildcats issuing eight offers to 2017 prospects. It might be a frustrating situation, but for Collins and staff, it’s reality.
After missing on most of its major in-state targets, NU has cooled with many of its primary 2017 options. At this point, three-star shooting guard Anthony Gaines still looks like a possibility, but otherwise it’s been a rough go this summer.
Given these struggles, the outlook for Northwestern’s 2017 class is dim. Things can certainly shift in the coming weeks, but the biggest source of pressure will flow from the pursuit of Gaines. A secondary source of pressure will relate to whether the Wildcats can find some later targets. If so, perhaps Collins can keep this recruiting momentum going after all.