Before Northwestern dismissed Bill Carmody as its head coach this offseason, Wade Baldwin considered the Wildcats one of his top schools. Carmody and assistant Fred Hill began recruiting the 6-foot-3 guard in his sophomore year of high school, hosted him on two visits and had sold him on the possibility of acclaimed academics and an improving basketball program.
“They were definitely near the top of my list, “ Baldwin said Friday. “They were one of the first schools to come after me. I just wanted to wait it out.”
While his recruitment with NU heated up, Baldwin resisted the urge to focus on one school. He held the Wildcats in high esteem, but wanted to see if any other schools would come calling before making a decision.
The answer? Yes: Baldwin has since picked up more than 10 scholarship offers, including VCU, Minnesota, Stanford and Harvard, and has already begun whittling down his list. As of Friday, Baldwin had settled on a group of seven: Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Seton Hall, UConn and USC.
Only two of those schools (UConn and USC) have not offered Baldwin, but after shining at the recent Reebok Classic Breakout Tournament at Philadelphia University, he believes both programs could be joining his list sometime over the next few weeks.
Those optics would seem a closed door for other schools, like NU, hoping to get in on Baldwin’s recruitment, but Baldwin assures he’s not limiting his options exclusively to the schools named on his list.
“I’m still open to anything,” he says.
That includes the possibility of reconnecting with the program he once considered amongst his favorite school choices. Wildcats assistant Patrick Baldwin is hoping Baldwin is willing to reconsider NU with its newly-minted head coach, and reached out to him three days after the Reebok Classic. Baldwin told Baldwin (sorry!) he plans to watch him throughout the July evaluation period.
The initial contact was an encouraging development for Baldwin, who readily admits his previously strong relationship with NU has him eager to give the Wildcats a second look post-coaching change.
“Absolutely,” he said. “They haven’t offered, so it’s hard to say a lot right now, but I’m definitely willing to try and get to know the coaches.”
This late in the process, with Baldwin already having created a tentative list of final choices, it could be difficult for NU to redevelop the connection it once had with Baldwin. There are new coaches now. The Wildcats are coming off a 4-14 Big Ten season. Baldwin has offers from a raft of programs that have enjoyed more recent success than NU. Things are different.
But Baldwin isn’t glossing over the Wildcats, particularly if he finds the school’s academic prestige – Baldwin’s main attraction to NU when he was being recruited by Carmody – as convincing a selling point as he did less than two years ago.
“The academic part of it [Northwestern] was key,” he said. “My parents are big on that.”
The Wildcats had Baldwin hooked a while back. Now they need to reestablish that bond in relatively short order.
School: St. Joseph's (NJ)
Offers: Auburn, Harvard, Minnesota, Northwestern, Rice, Richmond, Seton Hall, St. Joseph's, Temple, VCU, Virginia, Iona, UMass, Boston University
Profiles: Rivals, Scout, 247
Notes: Once considered NU one of his top schools. Recently started talking to NU again.