It has been quiet on the recruiting front for Chris Collins. After bringing in a strong recruiting class for 2021 that was headlined by four-star guard Casey Simmons, the ‘Cats hold just one commit for 2022 and none for 2023.
With the 2022 class becoming increasingly thin, it’s important for Northwestern to try to add on additional talent going into 2022. Despite consistently strong recruiting under Collins, Northwestern has not finished above .500 since their inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. Here is a check-in on the future of Northwestern basketball:
The big news: Rowan Brumbaugh decommits from Northwestern – 6-foot-4, 180 lbs., four-star point guard
Brumbaugh originally pledged himself to Northwestern in late August of 2021. At the time of his signing, he was the second-highest ranked recruit that the Wildcats had ever roped in, according to 247Sports. He was the first signee of the class and projected to be a main contributor off of the bench before transitioning to starting point guard following the graduation of Boo Buie.
That was until Brumbaugh decommitted from Northwestern and three days later committed to play for Chris Beard at the University of Texas-Austin. At Texas, Brumbaugh will slot into a role of great importance. The Longhorns have six senior guards currently rostered and are bringing in two five-stars in the class of 2022.
The guard out of Massachusetts is regarded as one of the more well-rounded players coming out of the class of 2022. He has plus passing and shot making ability to go with solid defense and rebounding skills. He surely would have been a steadying presence for a Northwestern team that too many times finds a way to collapse late in games.
Luke Hunger: PF, 6-10, 255, Montreal, QC
Hunger is the lone Northwestern commit after Brumbaugh’s flip to Texas. The forward committed to Evanston on Nov. 2, 2021 and will slot in to take over minutes from Elyjah Williams and Pete Nance once they graduate.
The Wildcats find themselves shallow down low for next season. Robbie Beran and Ryan Young will still be there as seniors, but outside of those two the only returning talent is center Matt Nicholson, who has played sparingly during his career in purple (though his game against Michigan State recently was very impressive).
Hunger is a large body at 255 pounds, but has developed his perimeter shooting to become a big who can create space. He can create in the post, but also has the ability to space the floor. Most importantly, he brings height into a thin front court for the ‘Cats.
The three-star is a good get for Collins, now it is time to supplement his team with additional prospects.
What comes next
Northwestern is projected to lose three rotational pieces after this season, the most notable being Nance. With most 2022 prospects being signed, it is slim pickings for Collins currently. None of Northwestern’s offered prospects for 2022 remain uncommitted, according to 247Sports. Barring a prospect being flipped in favor of the ‘Cats or Collins making a late stage push for a signee, Northwestern will have to be active in the transfer portal.
Up top, the guard position is stable rotationally. Chase Audige, Ty Berry and Buie all project to return next season, while Simmons, Julian Roper II and Brooks Barnhizer have the talent to serve as strong bench players or to emerge as starters.
If we assume that no Wildcat personnel enters the transfer portal (which is extremely unlikely given the current state of college athletics), Northwestern will likely look only for a veteran bench piece in the post. Losing Nance is huge, but Young has looked like one of the best players on the Wildcats’ roster and should be able to hold down responsibilities as starting center. A similar grab to Williams will be needed to add ever-so-important seasoned talent to Collins’ group.