A little over a week ago, I explored some intriguing grad transfer possibilities for Chris Collins and his staff, although without much information to go off of. Now, a new name is in the mix and is reportedly seriously considering Northwestern.
Elijah Brown, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who has led New Mexico in scoring for each of the past two seasons, has the Wildcats on his list of the five programs he is considering, according to Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports.
New Mexico grad transfer Elijah Brown tells me he's cut his list to Iowa State, Northwestern, Oregon, Saint Mary's, and Gonzaga.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 7, 2017
Of course, there’s some pretty tough competition on that list, so Northwestern fans shouldn’t read too much into this just yet. It will obviously be tough to beat out two Final Four teams and a fully reloading Iowa State team — and don’t count out St. Mary’s, which is losing its starting shooting guard as well and is the only school on the list that offered Brown out of high school.
Still, the fact that Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, has included Northwestern with four top-17 Kenpom teams seems to suggest he is intrigued by what the Wildcats have to offer in 2017-18. Northwestern is easily the most prestigious academic school on that list and certainly has some positive national momentum going into next season.
Brown started his career at Butler but transferred to New Mexico following his freshman season, and after sitting out a year, has been a star for the Lobos. As a redshirt sophomore, he averaged 21.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 43/85/39 shooting. This past season, his scoring and efficiency dipped slightly to 18.8 points per game on 38/83/33 shooting.
There will be undoubtedly a number of factors that Brown has to consider in his decision. If he wants to go somewhere and continue to play 30+ minutes a night in a starring role, Iowa State probably makes the most sense. He would almost certainly come off the bench at Northwestern, since Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey have established themselves as a formidable backcourt pairing.
Still, Brown would be a massive one-year get for Collins as another proven, experienced scorer and great athlete. He gets to the line a ridiculous amount and can get hot from beyond the arc and create his own shot off the dribble.
We’ll keep you updated with all grad transfer news as Collins looks to fill up his two open scholarships, but Brown is a name to keep an eye on.
Those other Wildcats come calling
In other news, Northwestern’s top 2017 recruiting target is looking like more and more of a longshot every day. Mark Smith, the Edwardsville, IL star who won Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, received an offer from John Calipari and Kentucky on Thursday.
Edwardsville 2017 PG Mark Smith @Mark_Smith_13 landed a Kentucky offer tonight— Scott Burgess (@scottybscout) April 7, 2017
Smith also has offers from the likes of Michigan State, Butler, and Indiana, and new Illinois coach Brad Underwood is pushing to keep Smith in the state. He also is being recruited by Missouri, which has the No. 1 player in the country, Michael Porter Jr., and may soon be adding the No. 1 player in Illinois, Jeremiah Tilmon.
Northwestern is still in the mix, but at this point, I’d be shocked if Smith is wearing purple next season.