Northwestern received a commitment from PF Gavin Skelly today, per PurpleWildcats.com, making him the second commitment of the class of 2014 and the Chris Collins era. Skelly is a versatile big man who has been high on the Wildcats since visiting Evanston in June. To nobody's surprise, he jumped on an offer when he got it. More on Skelly below:
School: Westlake (OH)
AAU: Team Work
Other offers: Akron, Bowling Green, Bucknell, Buffalo, Cleveland State, Dartmouth, Elon, Kent State, Miami (OH), Oakland, Ohio, Toledo, William & Mary, Winthrop, Wright State
Profiles: Rivals, Scout
What's the Hype?
Skelly doesn't have nearly the same amount of hype coming into college that fellow 2014 commit Vic Law has. Law is a top 100 recruit, while Skelly doesn't have a star rating from Rivals or Scout and his offers came mostly from MAC schools. So to be "blown away" or surprised by this commitment is hyperbolic propaganda and unnecessary hype-building used in an effort to get fans excited. However, we know that star ratings aren't everything and we also know that on the surface, Skelly appears to be a good fit for Collins' system, regardless of what recruiting sites or other college coaches thought (more on that below).
From day one, Skelly has been intrigued by the prospect of being a Wildcat:
Visiting campus and talking to coaches, particularly Collins and assistant Patrick Baldwin, had already convinced Skelly Northwestern was moving in the right direction. “I like what Coach Collins is doing. It’s like a whole new program, whole new offense, whole new team.” Hearing about the commitment of four-star forward Vic Law for the very first time elicited a more jubilant response. “Really?! Wow, that’s great!,” he exclaimed.
Skelly also pointed to "basketball and academics" as the two biggest things he was looking for in a school, and while that's a pretty vanilla answer, it implies it's someone who doesn't care about flash and tradition, which is what NU needs right now. So from all that we can tell right now, Skelly seems to be a solid pickup for NU, regardless of the hype.
Where He Fits In
It's tough to say how players will fit into Northwestern's new system since we haven't even seen it in action yet. However, from all that we can tell so far, Collins seems to want to get out and run and play an exciting brand of basketball. Center Alex Olah has already dropped weight to better fit into this style, and it looks like Collins' first big man recruit fits the mold, as well. From the article linked above:
Skelly’s range of skills might obscure your notion of his listed position, center. That’s because Skelly, when he joins the college ranks, expects to attack and defend from a variety of spots on the court. The traditional rigidity of a center’s positional conventions (the back-to-the-basket, paint-restricted, plodding big man) doesn’t apply.
“He said I could be used in a lot of different ways,” Skelly said. “For me, it depends on the game situation. I prefer to be able to score from different spots.”
Skelly also said that he hopes to put on some weight, which he'll need to do in order to be a big man in the Big Ten. However, as a nimble, athletic player, he can be an asset as a big body who can also run the floor. Want proof of his athleticism? There are plenty of dunks in the video above.
We still don't know enough about Collins' system to know exactly where Skelly will fit in, and considering Skelly still has another year of high school, we don't know enough about him yet either. However, he's a big man who has the capability to run the floor and hit shots from anywhere on the court, and that's never a bad combination to have.