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Northwestern basketball recruiting update

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Who is Chris Collins still pursuing in the class of 2017? Who are some top targets for 2018?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Salt Lake City Practice Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

While Northwestern’s historic season may be over, Coach Collins and his staff are far from done working. New Hampton native Anthony Gaines remains Northwestern’s lone commit for the 2017 recruiting class, meaning the Wildcats have two open scholarships remaining. Success on the recruiting trails is the first step Northwestern needs to take to start making deep runs into March.

Gatorade Illinois boys basketball player of the year Mark Smith remains the primary target. After missing out on Illinois blue-chips Jordan Goodwin, Nojel Eastern, and Justin Smith, Mark Smith is Collins’ last shot at landing an elite in-state recruit for the 2017 class. Smith, a native of Edwardsville, IL, has seen his recruiting pick up after he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game and led Edwardsville to a 30-2 record his senior season. The three-sport-athlete holds offers from Butler, Cal, Illinois, Northwestern, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas, Alabama and Kansas State, although big names like Michigan State and Kentucky have entered the conversation recently. His recruitment is blowing up.

New Illinois head coach Brad Underwood and new Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin have both reached out to Smith since being hired and are still among the projected favorites. Smith is a do-it-all guard, capable of handling the ball, slashing, shooting, and playing defense. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he’s built to play in the Big Ten. The senior is taking a fair share of unofficial visits in the upcoming weeks, including in-home visits from Underwood and Martin. Northwestern was Smith’s second Big Ten offer behind Illinois, when four Wildcat coaches including Collins went to see him play. Expect a commitment from Smith in early to mid April.

Besides Smith, Northwestern’s best option may be Clifton Moore, a high-three-star power forward from Horsham, PA. Moore was a priority for Northwestern, even drawing an in-home visit from Collins in late September, before opting to commit to Indiana. Crean’s departure has opened the door for Northwestern, as Moore has requested a release from his LOI to Indiana. New Indiana head coach Archie Miller has made it a priority to recruit Moore once again, but it appears the senior wants to completely reevauluate this decision. Back in September, Moore announced a top 6 of Indiana, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Temple, St. Joseph’s, and Lafayette. The 6-foot-10 forward would be a solid get for a Northwestern team losing Sanjay Lumpkin next year and Gavin Skelly in two years.

Recruiting for the class of 2018 is where Northwestern is aiming big. Recruits will come in and play their first season at the newly renovated Welsh-Ryan, and with Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, and Gavin Skelly all set to graduate next season, there will be plenty of playing time up for grabs. Here’s an early look at a few of Northwestern’s top targets for 2018:

Ayo Dosunmu: Dosunmu is a Chicago native from Morgan Park, the high school that produced current Cal point guard Charlie Moore. 247 dubs Dosunmu as the No. 1 player in Illinois and the No. 24 player in the nation. He’s visited Northwestern and would have the chance to come in and contribute immediately. However, the point guard holds offers from the likes of Butler, Cincinnati, Florida State, Illinois, Missouri, and Texas A&M, and his recruitment is only going to pick up after leading Morgan Park to a Class 3A state championship this season. It’s unknown how Northwestern’s 2016-17 season will affect recruiting, but Dosunmu is a legitimate, albeit lofty, target.

Dwayne Cohill: Collins has been looking at Cohill for some time now; Northwestern was one of his earliest offers. The Cleveland native is another elite guard, ranked the No. 2 player in Ohio and No. 55 in the nation per 247. Northwestern’s biggest competition for Cohill is likely in-state powerhouse (former powerhouse?) Ohio State, but the guard also holds offers from West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Butler, and Xavier. This seems to be a big AAU season for Cohill. His recruitment is heating up and Land of 10 reports he is looking for a Michigan offer while keeping his commitment wide open. Northwestern is absolutely in the mix.

Robby Carmody: Nope, no relation, but Carmody is still one of Northwestern’s top targets. He took a visit in early March, and has remained on Collins’ radar since recruitment opened for the 2018 class. Carmody holds an impressive list of offers, including Butler, Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pitt, Purdue, and Syracuse. The Fighting Irish are especially infatuated with Carmody because they see another Steve Vasturia. Carmody is athletic but also excels at catching and shooting. Northwestern will continue to stay hot on the Pennsylvania native.

Talen Horton-Tucker: Northwestern offered the 6-foot-5, 210 pound forward back in October. He’s the No. 4 player in the state per 247 and holds offers from DePaul, Iowa State, and Missouri, among others. Horton-Tucker is a Simeon Career Academy product, the school that produced Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker, and going back a few decades, Ben Wilson. Horton-Tucker took them to the state finals before falling to city rival Whitney Young, but Simeon has won seven state titles, including six between 2006 and 2013. Horton-Tucker’s game is very unique and versatile for a high school player, almost Charles Barkley-esque. Collins loves to recruit within Illinois, and look for him to try to keep Horton-Tucker close to home.

Riley Battin: Battin remains Northwestern’s lone offer to a center for 2018. At 6-foot-9, he’s similar to Pardon, relying on his length and athleticism rather than his height. Battin is given a three star rating by 247 but ESPN rates him as a four star. Northwestern offered the California native back in October, and he also holds offers from Davidson and Utah, as well as a few other small west coast schools. Northwestern objectively appears to be Battin’s best offer, but it’s hard to believe his recruitment is done. Collins certainly wouldn’t mind adding a center in 2018.

Cormac Ryan: Northwestern really needs to land an immediate contributor to its backcourt in 2018, and Ryan fills that need. He’s a complete guard, unafraid of taking the ball inside but also impressive from behind the arc. Most impressive, however, might be his offer list. Northwestern is joined by Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Villanova. The 6-foot-5 point guard has taken a couple of visits to Evanston, and should remain a priority for Collins.