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Northwestern Notebook 6/21

by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

It's official: Ajou is a Wildcat

We're known for a week or so now that Chier Ajou (pronounced SHEER ah-JOE), the 7-2 South Sudanese cousin of Luol Deng, would be a Wildcat, but NU made it official on Wednesday. Ajou still needs to go through an NCAA Clearinghouse, but he will most likely be on the NU bench — or possibly the court — next season.

Bill Carmody had some nice things to say about his new center — and the entire recruiting class — in the release:

"The addition of Chier completes a terrific freshman class that we're very excited about," Carmody said. "He is an outstanding young man who is athletic, has great upside and is a good fit for our program. He'll provide our team with a dimension we haven't seen in a while."

Ajou played for two years at Culver Academy in Indiana before playing for St. Thomas More School, a prep school in Connecticut. At St. Thomas More, he averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game. It's tough to judge what Ajou's role will be next year. He clearly has a great upside, but big men typically take longer than guards to develop and adjust to the college game.

However, there's a real possibility we could see Ajou on the court this winter, if for no other reason that it might be tough to keep the tallest player in NU basketball history (really) on the bench. Check out what our own Chris Johnson had to say on the subject.

New Commit

NU received a commitment from Xavier Menifield, a two-star running back, according to Scout. Menifield is from Chatsworth, Calif., and also had offers from Air Force, Army and Wyoming. NU was his only BCS offer, so after doing some research he committed, despite never having visited Evanston. Right now, he's listed as 5-10, 185 pounds with a 4.45 40-yard dash time, and ranks as Scout's No. 128 running back in the country.

"After I did my research and found out it's one of the top 10 schools in the country, in the Big Ten and all the prestige that goes with it, tt just caught me," Menifield told

Menifield is NU's eighth verbal commitment for the class of 2013.

Chun an All-American

NU golf added the 12th All-American in its history Wednesday, as senior Eric Chun was named a Division 1 PING All-America honorable mention selection. Chun is the second straight Wildcat to earn All-American honors, as David Lipskey did in 2011.

Chun had a stroke average of 71.38, which is fifth-best in NU history, behind three seasons from Luke Donald — currently No. 1 in the world on the PGA Tour — and one from former All-American Jess Daley.

Cats top APR Ratings

Northwestern's football program topped the FBS in the NCAA's APR numbers, with a 997 (out of 1,000) for 2010-2011 and a multi-year score of 995. The Wildcats tied for first place in Division 1 with Davidson. Eight of NU's 19 sports received perfect scores, while the lowest score was a 983. Last week, 10 programs earned NCAA honors for having top 10 percent APR scores in their respective sports.

Here's Jim Phillips' statement from the release:

"After 10 of our programs earned national recognition from the APR program last week, this week's complete report paints an even better overall picture of how well our student-athletes are performing in the classroom. Time and again our young men and women demonstrate that Northwestern is a leader both on the field and in the classroom. Credit goes also to our tremendous coaches, who recruit quality young people into our institution."

Teams that fall below an APR of 925 are penalized by the NCAA, but it seems no Northwestern program is in danger of that happening any time soon.

Our own Jonah Rosenblum has an outstanding piece on the subject and puts into perspective what being a student-athlete means at Northwestern, as opposed to other schools.

Playoff is coming — probably

After meeting in Chicago yet again, the BCS conference commissioners announced that they would recommend a four team playoff to the  Presidential Oversight Committee to vote on. The playoff would feature the "top four teams" and would be chosen by a selection committee, according to CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy.

We'll go more in-depth on this on the site later this week, but obviously this is big news. Most people will look at the fact that we have a playoff as the biggest news of the day, but that was seemingly a given eventually. The biggest news is that the playoff will be "seeded" and made up of the top four teams, not just conference champions (or is the biggest news that Jim Delany and Mike Slive actually agreed on something?).

It's also great news for the sport that a selection committee will be used to pick the teams. Details still need to be ironed out — it's definitely possible to mess up a selection committee — but the BCS, perhaps the most flawed formula in sports, is history. How was it okay for uninformed Harris Poll voters to pick teams to play for the national title? How was it okay for coaches — who clearly have an agenda — to vote?  Hopefully the powers that be are as baffled by these questions as everyone else surrounding the sport and don't let it happen again. From the looks of things, the system will be changed for the better — much better.