Let’s start with this tease: While sitting in Welsh-Ryan Arena on Monday afternoon, somebody affiliated with the Northwestern basketball team declared, “We’re going to average five dunks a game this year.”
Now that I have your attention, who knew there could be so much going on with Northwestern basketball on the first day of fall?
For starters, four-star swingman Jershon Cobb (a senior at Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga.) committed to the Wildcats on Sunday night. Rivals.com ranks Cobb as the nation’s No. 90 player in the Class of 2010, but Scout.com doesn’t go quite that crazy. Scout calls him a three-star recruit who’s the 50th-best shooting guard in the class.
Cobb was the leader of a Columbia High team that went 25-3 last season and lost to Class AAA state champ South Atlanta in the state semifinals. South Atlanta, by the way, had a big dude by the name of Derrick Favors whom you’ll see at Georgia Tech this season and the NBA by 2010-11.
Cobb was a first-team Class AAA all-stater according to Justin Young, who runs the Georgia Hoops blog as well as http://nationalhoopsreport.blogspot.com/
Here’s what Young’s blog says about Cobb’s decision:
“There were a number of commitments that happened over the weekend and there were some that were probably sexier in recruiting circles than JerShon Cobb to Northwestern but this one is important. The 6-4 guard from Atlanta tripped to Evanston and loved his time in the Chicago area. Cobb is a smart guy that can play multiple positions and should fit in perfectly with the way Bill Carmody. Don’t be surprised to see Cobb start three of his four years for the Big Ten school.”
Now, Cobb’s decision on its own is a huge deal. Four-star recruits choose Northwestern about once every 10-15 years or so. But Cobb can set the stage for another big Class of 2010 recruit and a monstrous haul in the Class of 2011.
Northwestern hopes 6-foot-4 point guard Josh Gasser from Port Washington, Wis., sees that he’ll have a quality wingman in Cobb and decides to spurn a recent scholarship offer from Wisconsin. The Cats have been recruiting Gasser for eons and wouldn't mind seeing their hard work rewarded.
Then there’s the trio of Class of 2011 prospects from Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga., who are seriously considering Northwestern. Point guard Shannon Scott (son of former North Carolina and NBA standout Charlie Scott), shooting guard Dai-Jon Parker and power forward Julian Royal made an unofficial visit to Evanston in August and enjoyed what they saw. Also, apparently, they’re intrigued by the idea of being the crew that leads Northwestern to its first NCAA Tournament bid.
If you’re wondering how good these guys are, here’s where Rivals.com ranked them in the Class of 2011’s Top 100 list that it released last month:
Scott: 5 stars; No. 12 prospect overall
Parker: 5 stars; No. 17 prospect overall
Royal: 4 stars; No. 30 prospect overall
Milton High School lost Georgia’s Class 5A state title game last year. Royal produced 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in the loss while Parker added 14 points. And, conveniently enough, all three guys play for the Southern Kings AAU team and they seem like they want to stay together for college.
Long story short, there’s more excitement floating around Northwestern basketball recruiting than at any other point since recruiting became a year-round spectator sport.
Then there’s the current Northwestern squad, which just might ruin the Alpharetta trio’s hopes of being the first to lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament promised land. The Wildcats conducted their second full-team workout on Monday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena and the hour-long session was interesting.
Thought No. 1: Virtually everyone is visibly stronger after spending spring quarter and summer school in the weight room, while freshman guard Drew Crawford already looks like a junior or senior in terms of strength. Sophomore F John Shurna and sophomore G Nick Fruendt were among the dudes who displayed an increase in explosiveness.
In fact, I think it was one of the times when Shurna slashed baseline and dunked that NU sports information czar Nick Brilowski uttered the comment that the Cats will dunk five times a game (Note: Nick wasn’t exactly serious when he said this, but we’re keeping this note in here to see how many people read it and whether it might “go viral.” Consider this an experiment that could influence the amount of NU coverage going forward).
Thought No. 2: Junior forward Mike Capocci is REALLY explosive and makes it look effortless. At one point, Jeremy Nash drove baseline and got stuck under the basket. Capocci flashed into the lane, caught Nash’s pass and elected to float the ball through the hoop. An assistant came over and complimented Capocci on the play, but suggested, in essence, that he take a rock step and rip down the rim and not worry about dunking all over his teammates. I, too, would have liked to have seen that.
Thought No. 3: I’m not saying freshman lefthander Alex Marcotullio is the next Craig Moore. After all, Moore finished among the Big Ten’s top all-time 3-point artists with 320 bombs and now plays in The Netherlands (By the way, you must make Moore’s blog a part of your life: http://craigmoore.wordpress.com/). But Marcotullio drained 3 consecutive 3-pointers during serious scrimmaging, including one fast-break opportunity when a normal guy would have slashed to the rim. Instead, he pulled up and nailed the 3-pointer like he’d done it a hundred times.
Thought No. 4: Sophomore center Kyle Rowley was dressed in the team’s new adidas workout gear, but he merely rode the exercise bike because his broken left foot remains in a boot. There’s no word on his expected return, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll need to use his redshirt season.
Thought No. 5: I told My Guy Nick I’d love to see a Bill Carmody coaching video. Not only do I believe basketball junkies would love to learn the ins and outs of the Princeton offense, but it’d be a great visual for everyone to see Carmody go about coaching and correcting on the court while holding his cup of coffee in his left hand…as he did for a portion of Monday’s session.
Northwestern employee/media king/all-around funny guy Shon Morris stopped by to check out a little bit of practice. Both he and My Guy Nick have a pick to click on this year’s team. I won’t reveal it here, but perhaps down the road if they turn out to be on the money.
OK, remember…five dunks a game…