In Marcus Bartley’s estimation, a strong relationship with coaches, an offense geared to enhance his creativity at the point guard spot, and the opportunity to become a keystone of Northwestern’s turnaround under Collins had already established the Wildcats as one of his early favorites.
Thursday’s addition of Vic Law to the 2014 class only made the Wildcats’ offer “stronger."
“It shows the program is definitely heading in the right direction,” he said Friday. “He’s a great player, and he bought into the program. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Landing a versatile power forward in Law, a consensus top-100 player who chose the Wildcats over Creighton, Stanford, VCU and others Thursday, was an important first step. The Wildcats are still in the hunt for a point guard in 2014, and Bartley has given every indication he might just be the perfect fit. From his comfort on Northwestern’s campus during a May visit, to his frequent contact with coaches (he said NU coaches talk to him more than any other school) to the convenience of staying close to home and helping lead the Wildcats toward their first NCAA Tournament birth -- well, all of it has Bartley glowing about Northwestern.
This July, Bartley will play in two NY2LA events in Milwaukee and round out the summer evaluation period with a tournament in Fort Wayne. He said he expects Northwestern to attend both Milwaukee events. The Wildcats’ two biggest competitors in the chase to land Bartley are, in no particular order, Oklahoma State and DePaul. Bartley has also talked with Minnesota, Creighton, Purdue, Stanford and Purdue, and expects to see them at games this summer.
An important tie-in for Bartley was actualized when Armon Gates was hired to replace former assistant Tavaras Hardy. Gates recruited Bartley during his time at Loyola Chicago, and stayed in touch with Bartley through the transition.
“We talk a lot,” he said. “Coach Baldwin, too.”
The next step for Bartley comes in August, when he plans to sit down, reevaluate his offers (including any new ones that may, and probably will, surface), chop down his list of schools and map out some visits. Nothing about that list is a guarantee…except one thing: Northwestern will be on it, no matter what.
“I can guarantee it,” he said. “Northwestern will be on there.”
The end of Bartley's college search will come at an unknown date. Northwestern does know it will be involved, and at this stage of Bartley’s recruitment -- on the cusp of three pivotal tournaments that could invite a whole new raft of offers from high major programs – his guarantee is the most important commitment any school could possibly ask for.
School: Decatur, Macarthur (IL)
AAU: Peoria Irish
Other offers: Bradley, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, North Dakota State, Oklahoma State, South Dakota State, Tennessee-Martin, William & Mary
Profiles: Scout, Rivals
Notes: Called NU his “top offer” after visit; Impressed by Collins, who extended the offer; Could have more offers soon, as Oklahoma State, NU, Harvard, St. Louis, Stanford and Cornell all saw him in mid-April