With the leaves beginning to fall, it is finally about time to discuss some college basketball! To begin our preseason coverage of the Northwestern men’s basketball team, we’ll begin with those who are new to Evanston this season. Here’s what to know about the Wildcats’ newcomers and reserves for 2022-23:
F Tydus Verhoeven, graduate student (UTEP)
Being the only transfer joining the ‘Cats this season, Verhoeven’s 6-9 frame fits the needs of Northwestern tremendously. After losing three rotational bigs in Pete Nance, Elyjah Williams and Ryan Young, the starting center for Northwestern is uncertain, but Verhoeven is surely in the running.
During his three years in El Paso, Verhoeven only improved, with this last season having him average a block a game on over 50% from the field. He will not transform Northwestern offensively, but his experience and leadership should be pivotal on a team that looks quite different than a year ago. Whether he starts or joins the second unit, expect to see Verhoeven get valuable minutes this season.
F Nick Martinelli
The Illinois native is likely the most familiar with Northwestern out of anyone on this list, with his brother Dominic walking on for the ‘Cats in 2020-21. The 6-foot-7 wing won’t wow you with his athleticism, but his 22.8 ppg in his senior season is evidence alone that he is capable offensively.
After originally committing to Elon, Chris Collins was quick to offer the senior after Elon’s head coach parted ways with the program. Martinelli’s shooting alone should give him a shot at cracking the rotation, but if he’s able to develop on the defensive end, he could make a real contribution to the ‘Cats in his first year.
F Luke Hunger
After the decommitment of four-star point guard Rowan Brumbaugh, Hunger’s commitment was treated as a bit of a consolation prize, with Northwestern’s season beginning to go off the rails. However, the Canadian is turning out to be more than a consolation, with a 6-foot-10, 255-lb. build. Additionally, Hunger had a tremendous summer, proving that he is far from your average three-star recruit.
At Peach Jam, one of the premier high school showcases, Hunger put on a show. Averaging 16.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and a ridiculous four blocks per game in his eight games. Michigan and Wisconsin, among other Big Six schools, pursued Hunger after this performance but Hunger remained committed to the ‘Cats.
Hunger showed this summer that his skillset may benefit from the increase in the level of play in the Big Ten, and if he can prove to Collins that his jumper is a real threat, it’ll be difficult to keep the forward out of the starting five for long.
G Blake Smith
Smith definitely looks to be one of the more raw prospects on the list, with his frame being quite skinny to begin his freshman year. However, being a 6-foot-6 guard who did track in high school, it’s hard to not see the appeal.
Smith’s handle and jump shot are definitely not where you’d want them to be for Big Ten play just yet, so it’d be surprising to see him contribute significantly early, but he looks to be a long-term investment for the ‘Cats.
F Gus Hurlburt
The 6-foot-9 walk-on hasn’t had the typical background of a Power Six college basketball player. Hurlburt is from the small town of Enderlin, N.D., and attended a high school with a graduating class of a mere 21. Don’t let his background fool you, Hurlburt can hoop, averaging 15.9 Points and 8.8 rebounds in his senior year.
Hurlburt decided against playing basketball at North Dakota, to attend a school farther from home in Northwestern mainly due to its academics. Even before stepping foot on campus, Hurlburt reiterated that he wants to contribute in any way possible regardless of whether he gets playing time, so don’t expect to see many minutes right away out of the North Dakota native.