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Men’s basketball recruiting update: Still chasing the big names

Could family connections lock down some top prospects for the Class of 2021?

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: AUGUST 10 Nike Academy Showcase Game Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As a young Northwestern men's basketball team stumbles through another rough season, many a ‘Cats fan is looking toward the future in the form of recruiting battles for some of the top prospects in the nation. The Class of 2020 has only two commits (Matt Nicholson and Ty Berry); but the Class of 2021 still has some big time players considering Northwestern.

Here’s the last update, covering some of the prospects on Chris Collins’s radar for both the Classes of 2020 and 2021. For today, let’s look at three familiar players to watch as the recruiting cycle gets going again, as well as two newer targets who are also intriguing prospects:

Luke Goode

As many ‘Cats fan know, the four-star shooting guard from Fort Wayne has a unique family connection to Northwestern. His cousins are former NU (and current Notre Dame) wide receiver Bennett Skowronek and returning sixth-year quarterback T.J. Green, and Goode has already taken his official visit to Evanston.

Chris Collins will compete with Xavier, Maryland, Louisville, Iowa, Illinois, and Butler for Goode, who received an offer from Michigan State today in addition to that impressive list. As a natural-born shooter with a solid frame, Goode would be a huge addition for the ‘Cats backcourt.

Considering his familial connections to Northwestern, the ‘Cats could perhaps have an edge with adding Goode to the Class of 2021. From an outsider’s perspective, Collins’s odds of locking down Goode seem relatively unlikely, especially with Skowronek’s transfer to Notre Dame. However, with Green announcing his return for a sixth season on the football field, perhaps the ‘Cats still have the inside track.

Patrick Baldwin, Jr.

A consensus top-5 player in the class of 2021, Baldwin is being pursued by the likes of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina, among others. Much like Goode, Baldwin has familial connections to Northwestern: His father and mother are both alumni, while his father served on Chris Collins’ staff for four seasons before heading up north to UW-Milwaukee.

Baldwin stands at 6’8” (6’9” or 6’10” according to some sources) and 180 pounds, and has a phenomenal three-point stroke, great ball-handling skills, and enough size to play in the post. He’s a versatile player who would easily be the biggest commit in Northwestern history.

“They see me as the guy who can come in and really turn around their program,” Baldwin told in a recent interview on the subject of Northwestern.

“I think that Northwestern is really coming after me as a guy that can come in and make an impact and be that guy that when they talk Northwestern, they associate my name with Northwestern too,” he later added.

Indeed, Baldwin would be “the guy” for Chris Collins’ squad if he were to come to Evanston, even if it’s for only one season. While Baldwin is more likely to choose a traditional blue blood such as Duke, his familial connection and opportunity to be the primary scorer could still sway him to Northwestern.

Max Christie

The #1 ranked player in Illinois in an incredibly athletic wing with a solid perimeter shot and some good handles. He’s 6’5” but likens himself to Kevin Durant based on his versatility. Duke is quite high on the Rolling Meadows native, while Illinois and Northwestern also appear to be in the running to lock him down.

When he visited Evanston in October, Christie told The Daily Northwestern, “I’m not looking at all the blue blood schools just because I’m a five star, or whatever you want to call it… It’s not like I’m embarrassed to come here because I’m a five star.” Christie’s mother, Katrina, is a former member of the Northwestern women’s basketball team who scored over 1,000 career points during her impressive career.

Much like Baldwin, Christie is a potential one-and-done with familial ties to the Wildcats. He obviously has demonstrated interest in NU, so could Collins convince the big-time name to come to Evanston?

Brooks Barnhizer

Chris Collins offered the 6’6” three-star small forward in December. He is also being pursued by the likes of Butler, Western Kentucky, and Ball State.

In response to his offer from Northwestern, Barnhizer said, “Northwestern is a top-10 academic school in the nation that is in the Big Ten, so it is a best of both worlds kind of university. The coaching staff is a great blend of coaches who all are very knowledgeable and know what they are wanting to accomplish. The staff just really acknowledged the versatility in my game and how it could help them achieve what they are setting out to do in the future.”

His high school career has seen him develop into a solid interior defender and rebounder. He's a double-double machine and aggressive on the boards. While he is not as highly touted as the three previous prospects, Barnhizer is certainly a more likely commit and would be a solid add to the program.

Jaden Akins

The Farmington, MI, native rated his official visit to Evanston as a 10 out of 10 according to Louis Vaccher of The ‘Cats are pursuing three point guards from the Detroit area: Pierre Brooks, Julian Roper, and Akins. The four star (according to 247) also has garnered interest from DePaul, Georgia Tech, Iowa, and Michigan State.

At 6’3”, he has good handles and is capable of beating defenders on the ball. As his highlights demonstrate, he also has good on-court vision and can create his own shots. With the other guys from his area who the ‘Cats are pursuing leaning towards Michigan State, Northwestern has been aggressive in their recruitment of Akins.

Both Barnhizer and Akins are much more likely targets for CNorthwestern as they try to build their 2021 class, and each certainly have their share of impressive attributes. However, that three highly rated high school prospects have close familial ties to Northwestern could be a huge opportunity for Chris Collins and his staff.

The ‘Cats have picked off some intriguing talent in previous seasons (Pete Nance, Miller Kopp, Robbie Beran), but the potential of two top ten players and another four star forgoing the frequented path of a blue blood such as Duke to attend Northwestern, a program with some good young talent but seemingly in a holding pattern of mediocrity after one glorious season, is enticing to say the least. Can the ‘Cats get one of these guys? Possibly! All three of them? Probably not, but who knows? Crazier things have certainly happened.