The search for commitment number one of the Chris Collins era at Northwestern is a work in progress. His recruiting pitch for local players is a more refined product. 2014 point guard Marcus Bartley made his first campus visit Tuesday, and he left with an even more inviting take on the local program he calls his “top offer.”
That list includes Oklahoma State – which offered Bartley during the same April high school open gym session as Northwestern – Bradley, South Dakota State and Illinois State. Barley has heard from Georgia Tech, Stanford and Purdue in recent weeks, and expects more offers this summer.
“I’d have to say they’re number one right now,” Bartley said Tuesday night.
A tight relationship with Collins and assistant Tavaras Hardy – a connection made stronger over a campus tour and lunch Tuesday – gives Bartley a sense of comfort about his basketball prospects, his prospective on-court responsibilities and his ability to elevate his game in the Wildcats’ system.
He envisions a free-flowing brand of basketball, where Bartley echoes Collins’ thoughts and strategic designs to teammates from his commanding point guard spot, and where he has plenty of freedom to create for his teammates and manufacture his own shot in equal segments.
“They want me to command out there on the floor,” he said. “They want me to be a true point guard, and be like another coach on the floor.”
Another visit to Evanston is planned for the Fall, and Bartley isn’t expected to make any hasty decisions before then. He said he expects Collins and Hardy to watch him compete with Peoria Irish on the AAU circuit this July, and by the end of the summer, Bartley could be forced to reevaluate his commitment with an entirely new set of offers.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
The idea of becoming a founding member of Collins’ first recruiting class is something Bartley wholeheartedly embraces. If it seems challenging – lifting Northwestern from its historic Tournament-less slumber – Bartley understands, and he realizes what it would mean to chart Northwestern on a consistent winning trajectory.
Establishing a culture of winning is a concept Bartley can sign up for.
“That’s really appealing,” he said. “It would be great to be one of the first teams to win there, to be a building block.”
Being mentored by a head coach who’s advised the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and sat bench-side with arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all-time (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski), doesn’t zip past Bartley. Merely being courted by a coach with Collins pedigree is, for Bartley, an honor.
“He definitely knows basketball,” he said. “It’s very humbling to be recruited by someone with so many accomplishments and who has coaches so many great players. He’s definitely the type of guy you want to play for.”
Any premature eagerness for a Bartley commitment should indulge a big gulp of measured patience. Bartley isn’t deciding on a school anytime soon. “I’m not going to rush anything,” he said.
The Wildcats are in the lead on May 13. Building up enough staying power to maintain that status through the summer is the only way Northwestern will land him.
School: Free State (Lawrence, KS)
Other offers: Arizona State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Rice
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
Notes: Visited Memorial Day weekend; Committed on May 28