If the Northwestern basketball recruiting class of 2018 wins as much in college as they did in high school, it’s going to be a fun four years.
Miller Kopp, Pete Nance, Jordan Lathon, and Ryan Young all led their teams to their respective regional semifinals or better, with Kopp and Lathon earning championships. Moreover, Kopp and Nance each earned MVP awards, and Nance was named the Division II Player of the Year in Ohio.
A winning culture may be more of a cliche than a reality, but these four recruits are very used to coming out on top. After a disappointing (that doesn’t feel like the right word, does it?) 15-17 season, a culture change would be welcome for Northwestern fans. Here’s a deeper look at the 2017-18 season for each of the four incoming Wildcats:
Jordan Lathon and Grandview made history earlier this month when they became the first team in school history to clinch a Missouri state championship. The Bulldogs routed Kansas City rival Raytown South in the championship game 81-63, with Lathon leading the way with a game-high 24 points. Grandview and Raytown South split their regular season series, but the grudge match was decisive.
Lathon earned Athlete of the Week honors for his standout performance in the title game. Here’s a video with some highlights from the game and an interview with Lathon.
The third time was the tie-breaker as Grandview beat Raytown South last weekend for a MO Class 4 title!— Spectrum Sports KC (@SpecSportsKC) March 21, 2018
Jordan Lathon is a state champ - and our @HyVee Athlete of the Week.@GrandviewCSD4 @GHS_Dogs @mentormorris32 @j2lathon pic.twitter.com/v00Pd0wY84
MaxPreps only has stats for 21 of Lathon’s games this year, but it was a monster season nonetheless for the four-star guard. In his final campaign, Lathon put up 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game. He recorded one triple-double and five double-doubles as well. All signs point to Lathon contributing immediately and probably contending for the starting point guard role following Isiah Brown’s transfer. He’s versatile, athletic, and took care of the ball very well at the high school level.
At Revere High School in Ohio, Pete Nance had a season for the record books as well. Averaging 21 points per game to go with 11 rebounds and three blocks, Nance finished his career as the Revere all-time leader in each of those three categories, besting his brother, Larry, who also attended Revere. Nance was named the Ohio Division II player of the year and chosen for the All-Ohio First Team and the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game in April.
Nance led a Revere team that won its first district championship earlier this month on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Northwestern fans have to be excited at the sight of a 6-foot-10 Nance dribbling the ball up the court as the clock winds down and having the presence of mind to pass the ball when Nance has to know he’s the best player on the court.
You don’t see that kind of selflessness often from high school stars, and it sure looks like Northwestern got a good one in Nance. Revere ended up falling in the regional semifinals to St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James’ alma mater, with Nance putting up nine points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
Miller Kopp led his 31-5 Houston Christian team to a win in their final game of the season as well. The Mustangs defeated Episcopal 67-53 to capture their first Southwest Prepatory Conference championship. Kopp had 13 points in the championship game.
SPC State Champs!!— Miller Kopp (@Miller_Kopp) February 18, 2018
Love my brothers and coaches, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way... All Glory To God!!! pic.twitter.com/hK8ExFq2wu
A consensus four-star recruit, Kopp had another wildly successful season for Houston Christian. The 6-foot-7 wing was named the league’s MVP and was nominated to his second consecutive all-SPC conference team. He leaves Houston Christian with a bevy of school records, including both the single-season and career points milestones.
This guy has a relentless pursuit of excellence! He means such much to me and this program! Special young man!Awesome leader! Champion!School records-pts season 810, pts career 1800, 3pt% season 44%, 88FT% season , FT made game 18,season 195 & career 405. Well done @Miller_Kopp pic.twitter.com/zhdsxt7Gge— Ron Crandall (@rcrandallhoops) February 23, 2018
Kopp’s next game will be in a Northwestern uniform. Here’s a look at some Houston Christian highlights this season if you can’t wait until November to see him play.
Ryan Young had a monster season for his Bethlehem Catholic team located about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The big man averaged 16.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game for a 28-4 Golden Hawks team that advance to its first PIAA semifinal game ever. Young was held to 11 points in a semifinal loss, but it was a successful season for Bethlehem Catholic.
According to MaxPreps, Young logged double-doubles in 20 of Bethlehem Catholic’s 27 games. At 6-foot-10, Young displayed some shooting touch too, knocking dow 11-of-35 three pointers and making 71% of his 119 free throws. With Dererk Pardon and Barrett Benson ahead of him on the depth chart at center, Young might sit out the 2018-19 season, but if he can display mobility on the perimeter and a consistent shooting stroke, Young could get some minutes at the four.
There’s no good way to tell how well skill sets will translate to the college level, but it is promising to see such high levels of individual and team success for each of Northwestern’s four 2018 recruits. The new class could be taking over soon, however; Lathon, Nance and Kopp could potentially compete for starting jobs in the fall. It’s hard to know exactly where to set expectations for 2018-19, but the class of 2018 proves are lots of reasons to be optimistic.