Let it serve notice to the great young high school prospects located within driving distance of Chicago’s Big Ten team: Northwestern is seeking out local talent to anchor Chris Collins’ early recruiting efforts. This isn’t a surprise, or a revelatory tweak in recruiting strategy borne of a recent coaching switch. It’s just common sense. Northwestern needs to plant its stakes in the heart of the Chicago and larger Illinois talent pool, and Collins is already off and running.
In its own unique way, the geographical focus of their search for talent has become a major element of their recruiting pitch. Collins and his assistants are selling the opportunity to represent the local community by staying home and playing for the local Big Ten program. 2015 PF Evan Boudreaux understands the significance of playing college basketball in his own backyard, and after receiving a scholarship offer in May, the option of pursuing that local spotlight is officially open.
“It definitely means something,” Boudreaux said of Northwestern’s emphasis on highlighting the importance of a rising Illinois prospect like Boudreaux, who resides in Lake Forest, joining up with the Wildcats. “It’s a main selling point.”
Location and prospective local esteem aren’t the only factors Boudreaux will consider as he mulls his college offers over the coming months. Northwestern’s academics are a universally predictable object of stated interest, and Boudreaux got a feel for what kind of learning environment NU offers on a recent May visit. “It was a really nice campus,” he said.
Most of Boudreaux’s conversations so far have been with assistant Tavaras Hardy – he could only speak to Collins’ individual recruiting tactics on a superficial basis. Without mentioning any specific discussion, Boudreaux acknowledged what playing under a coach who, in his past 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Duke, helped the winningest coach in NCAA history operate one of the three or so most successful hoops programs in the country -- and monitored the world’s unqualified best collection of pure talent on Team USA for two Olympic gold medals and a FIBA World Championship – would mean.
That illustrious coaching resume – tacitly gleaned, openly discussed or otherwise – is a powerful recruiting tool in its own right.
“He’s been with the best,” Boudreaux said of Collins. “He’s coached at one of the best college teams at Duke for a really long time. It’s impressive.”
Other elements of interest for Boudreaux, besides the standard-operative constancy of elite academic standing, are Northwestern’s Big Ten membership, its location and his confidence in what Collins can accomplish as Northwestern’s next head coach.
This summer, Boudreaux will play in several events with his AAU team, Next Level Performance, and Collins and Hardy plan to watch him compete at the July 17U Nationals July in Orlando, Fla. Boudreaux counts five scholarship offers – Iowa State, Iowa, DePaul, Northwestern and Boston College – and that number will surely increase over the next year, maybe even the next few months, as Boudreaux showcases his talents on the AAU circuit.
The Wildcats plan to stick along throughout the process and hope their appeal to local prominence and hometown pride hits home for Boudreaux, who spoke confidently about the possibility of returning to campus at least once more before making a decision.
“It’s definitely an option,” Boudreaux said of Northwestern.
The stay-at-home pitch Collins and Hardy are rolling out is making an impression on local prospects. Tangible results in the form of commitments are next in line.