The quest to get Northwestern to recognize the 1931 National Championship isn’t over, but I want to jump into the future 79 years and look at an issue which is of pressing concern to many Wildcat fans. In recent weeks I’ve reported on the recruiting success of NU’s Women’s Hoops program. However, news on the men’s recruiting front has been quiet since Drew Crawford and Alex Marcotullio committed last fall. As a result, NU has no verbal commits in the class of 2010 while many other schools have several. This leaves many fans are asking who the Wildcats will sign this fall. Lately, thanks to several high-profile targets committing elsewhere, some NU fans have even voiced concern over NU’s ability to sign any recruits at all this fall.
For those who aren’t aware, NU has in recent weeks lost out in recruiting battles for local guards Alex Rossi (from New Trier) and Ben Brust (from Mundelein). I believe thanks to NU’s recent local success many assumed landing at least one these two players was a sure thing. The fact is, though, recruiting is never an exact science. For some players being closer to home is a draw. For other players that same factor is a huge negative. You also can’t predict how friendships with other players might impact a decision. When Cully Payne was going to attend Alabama his friendship with Brust wasn’t making much difference in where Brust planned to attend school. Once Payne decommitted from ‘Bama and decided to attend Iowa, however, his relationship with Brust was a key factor in the Hawkeye recruiting victory. Depressing as it is to lose such a kid to a conference foe, I’m not sure what Northwestern could have done to sway Brust’s choice.
With loss of Rossi and Brust, the question NU fans must ask is who is out there and can NU land them. Locally NU seems to have expressed some interest in Glenbrook North guard Alex Dragicevich (class of 2010) and Brooks College Prep guard George Marshall (class of 2011). However, the guy the Wildcats really seem to be going hard after, including extension of a scholarship offer, is Josh Gasser (class of 2010) of Port Washington, Wisconsin. Gasser is 6-4 and seems to offer the ability to be more of a combo guard than the 6-6 Dragicevich who is really an off-guard or the 5-11 Marshall who plays just the point. One advantage Northwestern has in recruiting Gasser is that NU is the only BCS-conference school to offer. The negative is that fact Gasser has been in possession of the offer from NU for sometime and has yet to the pull the trigger to commit. Personally, I don’t think it is such a bad idea for a kid to weigh his options, but I do understand why it worries NU fans who might think what Gasser is really doing is waiting for an offer from a program with a stronger history of success. If I were Bill Carmody, I would strongly stress last year’s success to Gasser and point out that NU is in position to make historic gains. No other program recruiting him is in such a position.
If Gassner doesn’t commit, Marshall seems very interested in NU. He attended NU’s team camp and drew the attention of NU’s coaches. He is regarded as a point guard who can shoot and that always helps in NU’s Princeton Offense. He also seems to have a good relationship with Tavaras Hardy who has been NU’s lead-recruiter since his arrival on Coach Carmody’s staff. If he gets an offer, I believe Marshall would commit to NU, but the current lack of an offer makes it seem as if NU’s staff would rather have Gasser and might wait to offer Marshall until Gasser decides. Personally, I hope that is not the case. If both can play, and both want to play for the Wildcats, then I would be happy to have both. Yes, the class of 2010 needs at least one big man as Kevin Coble will graduate at the end of the 2009-2010 season, but the fact is NU could have a two guard-one big man class and still be in position to have a strong front court with John Shurna, Davide Curletti, Kyle Rowley, and Luka Mirkovic all juniors in 2010-11. That said, although it seems NU’s current focus is on guards, I suspect Northwestern will add a big man for the class of 2010. What I suspect is that NU will look for a big man who has a strong senior year like they did when they signed Luka Mirkovic in the spring of 2008. Whatever the case, the recruiting season has a long way to go and I would not panic about NU’s situation yet, though, I hope Gasser commits soon.