Star rating: 3
Who is he?
Of all the freshmen in Chris Collins' first recruiting class, Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh were the two "gets" that Northwestern fans really had on their wish lists. Gavin Skelly wasn't really on the radar until just before he chose to commit. However, he's the kind of player that Northwestern desperately needs (and needs to be good) if the Wildcats are going to make it to the NCAA Tournament in the next few years.
One of the few true power forwards on the roster this year, Skelly stands at 6-foot-8, 219 pounds, and although he has gotten hype as an athletic power forward, he also has the physical tools to be competitive in the Big Ten right away. Collins said this summer that Skelly has "a Big Ten-ready body" and that he's an "above-the-rim guy," which seems to support the theory that he's ready for college play, but physically and athletically.
Northwestern fans have been disappointed by forwards before, so there is certainly some validity to the cautious optimism surrounding Skelly. But he's a 6-foot-8 player who seems physically ready for the Big Ten. That can't be a bad thing.
What are his expectations heading into this year?
Common sense would say that Northwestern would love to get Skelly into the fold right away, given its lack of big men, but it's not clear if having a "Big Ten-ready body" will mean he's ready for significant minutes in the conference. Typically, forwards have a bigger adjustment period than guards, because they have to play differently than they did in high school, and that could be true of Skelly.
It will be interesting to see who Skelly's competition for playing time will be. Will he mostly switch off with Law, or will Collins opt to go "big" at times and play him with Law and Alex Olah? That could help NU match up better with some of the bigger teams in the conference, and it will all depend on Skelly's development. As of now, let's say that it's something to consider as a possibility, but let's not count on it. But if he is ready for Big Ten playing time from the get-go — and not just ready physically — then Northwestern will be much better off, and the Wildcats will have a lot more lineup flexibility than they can count on right now.