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Northwestern basketball recruiting: Checking in on the latest offerees

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The Wildcats are staying largely regional, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t after some talented prospects.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest recruiting news may have come on the gridiron, but Chris Collins and his staff have also been busy this spring. Northwestern has extended a host of 2019, 2020, and 2021 offers in hopes of starting some recruiting momentum this summer after Ryan Greer reclassified to fill out the class of 2018. Here’s a look at seven of Northwestern’s newest offerees, including at least one familiar name:

Zeke Nnaji— 2019 PF

Nnaji’s recruitment has picked up in the past month after the Hopkins, Minn. native averaged nearly 20 points per game for Hopkins High School as a junior. Nnaji has earned offers from Indiana, Arizona, Georgetown, and UCLA in the past six weeks. Chris Collins offered the 6-foot-10, 215-pounder on May 18. 247Sports.com has Nnaji “warm” on Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota, UCLA and Wisconsin. He’s currently ranked as the No. 4 recruit in the state of Minnesota, and it’s not hard to see why. Nnaji’s footwork and touch around the basket are exceptional, and he’s also developed a jump shot out to the three-point line. He’s got great size at 6-foot-10, and if he can pack on a little weight, he looks like an optimal stretch four or five at the next level. With so many blue-blood schools in pursuit of Nnaji’s services, this will be an uphill battle for Chris Collins, but Nnaji is exactly the player to build a recruiting class around.

Tyler Wahl— 2019 SF

One of Nnaji’s AAU teammates, Wahl is actually ranked higher by 247Sports.com. Considered a four-star prospect and the No. 3 player out of Minnesota, Wahl is a versatile wing who averaged 17.5 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.9 blocks per game as a junior. On his tape, Wahl shows an outstanding ability to pass, dribble, and defend given his 6-foot-7 frame— think Pete Nance.

Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Minnesota, and Butler have all offered Wahl since April 24. Wahl was in Evanston for a visit on May 28 when he picked up an offer from Chris Collins.

Caleb Love— 2020 PG

Here’s a point guard recruit to get excited about. Love is an athletic playmaker who is comfortable shooting off the bounce. His 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame should fill out a bit more in his remaining two years of high school. A St. Louis native, Love is a high three-star recruit who is ranked as the No. 3 player in his class in the state of Missouri. He unofficially visited Northwestern on June 6 and picked up an offer. His recruitment has been largely regional to this point, as Illinois, Kansas State, Missouri, and Xavier are the four schools listed as “warm” on him right now, but the rising junior should see some more attention if he has a good summer and a strong junior season.

Ethan Morton— 2020 SG

2020 guard Ethan Morton earned some national acclaim last summer when he received a bid to the 2017 USA Men’s U17 World Cup Team Training Camp. The Big Ten offers started flowing in last fall, with Iowa, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all showing interest. Following a strong sophomore season for Butler High School in Pennsylvania, Morton has picked up offers from Stanford, Pitt, Virginia, Indiana, and, on May 2, Northwestern. He’s currently ranked as the No. 60 recruit in the 2020 class, and the No. 13 shooting guard in the nation. At 6-foot-6, he’s got a very well-rounded game, using his frame to slash to the basket, but also showing some nice touch from three. He plays point guard for his high school team, so he’s comfortable handling the ball and finding shooters and cutters.

Only a rising junior, Morton has already drawn a lot of attention from recruiters. He’s probably going to get the full-court press from Pittsburgh and Rutgers, but in the post-2018 world, he’s a recruit Collins and his staff have a good shot at centering their 2020 class around.

Ben Carlson— 2020 PF

One of the top players in the state of Minnesota, Carlson’s recruitment really began on April 23 with an offer from Stanford. Davidson, Minnesota, Iowa State, and Creighton followed in quick succession, and Carlson picked up a Northwestern offer during a visit on May 29. Rivals.com has him ranked as top-100, four-star prospect for the class of 2020. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

At 6-foot-9 Carlson is comfortable shooting out to the three-point line, and he shows an ability to pump fake, put the ball on the floor, and glide to the rim as well.

Patrick Baldwin Jr.— 2021 SF

It’s odd to think about offering a player who has completed only one year of high school basketball, but if there is one rising sophomore who Northwestern should offer early, it’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. Of course, Baldwin Jr. is the son of Shawn Karey Baldwin, a former Wildcat volleyball player, and Patrick Baldwin, a former standout basketball player and assistant coach who is now the head coach at UW-Milwaukee. The rising sophomore included photos of his parents in a tweet announcing his Northwestern offer on May 27.

Northwestern ties aside, Baldwin Jr. is one of the best 2021 recruits out there. Future150.com has him ranked as the No. 2 prospect in his class — an imperfect science given the lack of data to go off of, but Baldwin Jr. has been receiving attention since he was in seventh grade. Baldwin Jr. dropped 23 points in his high school debut, looking like a coach’s son with an array of crafty moves and back cuts to get easy layups. According to WisSports.net, Baldwin averaged 16.3 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman on .618/.414/.822 shooting splits, earning all-league honors. His major offers are USC, Arizona State, Marquette, Minnesota, Kansas State, and Northwestern, but it is only a matter of time before the rest of the Big Ten comes calling. Collins and his staff would do well to continue to focus on Baldwin Jr., even if his commitment may be two years down the road.

Max Christie— 2021 G

The other 2021 offer Northwestern has extended is to Rolling Meadows, Illinois native Max Christie. The local prospect also has Wildcat ties— his mother, Katrina Hannaford Christie was a center on the 1996-97 women’s team that reached the NCAA Tournament. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Christie averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and nearly three assists per game as a freshman. A 6-foot-5 guard, Christie still needs to grow into his body, but his stats from his first high school campaign are impressive. Florida, Illinois, Loyola Chicago, and DePaul have all offered the rising sophomore, while Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all interested in Christie as well.