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The Northwestern basketball freshman to watch not named Vic Law

Vic Law is the poster boy for a five-man recruiting class that may just be Northwestern's best ever. But the St. Rita product isn't the only reason the class is so highly thought of... in fact, Bryant McIntosh could be just as influential.

Andy Lyons

If you’re at all a fan of Northwestern basketball, or even of any Northwestern sport, you probably know the name. You probably know the hype and the accolades. You probably know the long-term expectations.

You’ve probably heard of Vic Law.

But is it possible that Northwestern’s prize recruit is overshadowing the rest of Chris Collins’ first recruiting class? Has Law’s top-100 status unfairly guided the spotlight away from Northwestern’s incoming group as a whole and onto one individual? That certainly could be the case.

And thus, one of the byproducts is that nobody is talking about the potential of one of Law’s classmates who could end up being just as big a part of what Collins is building as the highly-touted small forward. That player is Bryant McIntosh.

While it’s premature to start assessing incoming freshman before they even take the court in a college game, there’s a ton to like about McIntosh’s game.

First of all, even this early in his basketball career, it’s not an exaggeration to say that he’s already a proven winner. As a junior and senior in high school, he led Greensburg High School to back-to-back Indiana Class 3A state championships. But merely labeling a player a "winner" can be a bit hackneyed, and it can even mask the specific aspects of his game that have brought him such a label.

McIntosh is the definition of a combo guard at the college level. On one end, he’s a versatile defender. He’s quick enough to guard ball-handlers, and at 6-foot-3, long enough to be effective against off-ball guards. He’ll need to add strength to hang with some of the opposition he’ll eventually come up against, but that will come with time.

On the other end, he’s a floor general and a scorer bottled up into one player. He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands and without it, in transition or in half court sets, and as the top option or otherwise. He can knock down both mid-range and long-range jump shots, and is a comfortable and willing passer. He’s not an elite athlete, so penetration might be tougher to come by at the next level, especially in the Big Ten, but he’s an adept ball-handler, and a clever finisher in and around the lane.

But above all, there’s his basketball IQ, and the relative ease with which he seemingly plays the game. That’s by no means a slight to his toughness or intensity on the court – he exhibits both of those qualities. Rather, it’s a comment on how naturally the game seems to come to him. And over the years, we’ve seen countless examples of that by itself bringing about success. There’s no reason that can’t happen for McIntosh.

From the minute Collins got to Evanston, he knew he would need a trusted and skilled point guard to run his team. McIntosh could very well be the first player under Collins that fits that mold. So while Law is the headliner for Collins’ 2014 class, McIntosh could end up being just as important.