Convincing four-star small forward Victor Law to become Northwestern’s first verbal commitment of the Chris Collins era is arguably the biggest recruiting victory in Wildcats basketball history. Law will give the Wildcats more athleticism and natural talent than any NU player in recent memory.
His decision has less obvious implications, too. Just hours after making his announcement official on Twitter, at least one of Northwestern’s recruits has already taken notice. 2015 power forward Evan Boudreaux heard about Law’s commitment, and elucidated what many had long since wondered – but gleefully learned Thursday afternoon – about Collins’ ability to lure top prospects to Evanston.
“A lot of the recruits are realizing it’s a special place in terms of athletics and academics,” Boudreaux said Thursday. “Coach Collins is working hard to build his own program. A lot of people respect him and I think he’s proving he can recruit the high-caliber guys.”
His own connection with Northwestern was thrown into question once former assistant Tavaras Hardy, Boudreaaux’s lead recruiter throughout his courtship with the Wildcats, left for Georgetown. He has since connected with new assistant Patrick Baldwin, who he contacts frequently, as well as Collins.
Six schools (Boston College, DePaul, Iowa, Iowa State, Northwestern and Saint Louis) have scholarship offers out for Boudreaux, and the Lake Forest, Illinois forward has been receiving interest from some of the area’s top programs as his stock on the AAU circuit continues to climb – with perfect timing to boot, just as Boudreaux prepares to embark on a crucial summer evaluation period with Team Next Level Performance. Michigan, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Virginia are among the schools that promised to keep an eye on Boudreaux this summer.
One top Big Ten school with one legendary coach might have made the strongest inroads with Boudreaux in the last few weeks: Michigan State. Spartans coach Tom Izzo engaged in a long conversation following Lake Forest’s elimination from the Izzo Shootout quarterfinals, and spoke highly of his place on his recruiting priorities in 2015.
Few coaches can match Izzo’s NCAA Tournament pedigree. Collins is just looking to get Northwestern to its first Tournament game. Northwestern, by factual necessity, is taking a different approach to Boudreaux’s recruitment in stressing to Boudreaux the benefits of staying home and playing in front of friends and family while helping convince other local players to turn their once-apathetic eyes more keenly towards Chicago’s Big Ten team.
“It would be big to the community,” he said. “They’ve been trying to sell me on that. Obviously, it’s intriguing.”
In the weeks ahead, Northwestern will keep tabs on Boudreaux’s AAU performances and, according to Boudreaux, plans to watch him at a Next Level Invite event in Milwaukee as well as the 17U nationals in Orlando.
July is arguably the most important month of the college basketball recruiting calendar. Some prospects send their stocks flying through the roof. Others crumble under the pressure of coach-saturated sidelines and plummet in the rankings. Boudreaux is entering the month riding a recent rise in national profile, and he could come out of it with a few more offers.
The Wildcats have gripped Boudreaux’s interest, and he plans to make a visit to campus this fall. His visit last year, which coincided with Northwestern’s nonconference evisceration against Maryland, left a bad impression.
“That wasn’t good,” he said.
Things should be different this time around. Northwestern has a new coach and staff, a newly enhanced recruiting philosophy, and a newfound ability to land prospects historically destined for other more established programs.
School: Lake Forest
Position: Power forward
AAU: Next Level Performance
Other offers: Boston College, DePaul, Iowa, Iowa State, Saint Louis
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, 247, ESPN
Notes: Considers NU an “option”. Intrigued by idea of staying close to home. Has been in contact with top Big Ten programs. Plans to visit NU this Fall.