Two of Northwestern men's basketball's most heralded commitments in recent years will be in attendance as well.
Standing 6-foot-2, playmaking point guard Jaren Sina is arguably the highest rated recruit to ever commit to the Wildcats. 6-foot-7 sharpshooter Nate Taphorn has already drawn comparisons to NU great John Shurna. Both are 3-star recruits, and will don the white and purple in a year's time with great expectations.
Next season can't come quickly enough for the high school seniors, who will meet one another for the first time this weekend on their official visits to campus. Sina and Taphorn will take in Northwestern practice Friday morning, spend the day with their future teammates and attend Saturday's football game against Nebraska.
"I'm not gonna lie, I've been counting down the days," said Sina, who attends Gill St. Bernard's school in New Jersey. "I couldn't wait for this weekend. Now that it's here, I'm just excited to hang out with the guys, watch football and play a little basketball."
His counterpart felt the same way.
"It's pretty exciting to be up there again, I had a lot of fun last time," said Taphorn, a forward hailing from Pekin High School in central Illinois. "I'll get to meet Jaren—I'm hoping we'll get to play a little bit, get to know each other on the court and as people."
Sina shared Taphorn's enthusiasm about their upcoming partnership. Given the talent the Wildcats already boast, the point guard sees big things in Northwestern's future.
"I've heard [Nate] is an extremely good shooter," said Sina. "It's pretty rare to have a guy his size that can shoot that well. I think the biggest thing is just working, just chemistry, and I hope we can all get that down."
Both recruits are also optimistic about Northwestern's prospects for the fast-approaching season, as head coach Bill Carmody leads his team on another quest for the Big Ten and an NCAA tournament berth.
"Obviously I hope they get to the tournament," said Taphorn. "I think they have all the talent in the world to do that. They've got so many new players, and I look forward to seeing what's gonna happen."
"I'm definitely ready for the season to start up," said Sina. "I can't wait to see the guys play and watch some of my future teammates. I know they lost Shurna, but I'm really excited to see how Drew Crawford does."
Basketball aside, the duo will be rooting for a different Northwestern team Saturday. Sina and Taphorn have kept tabs on NU football from afar, and have high hopes for Coach Pat Fitzgerald's squad against the Cornhuskers.
"It's been a really exciting year so far," said Sina. "The loss to Penn State was tough but I'm really pumped for this Nebraska game. I think they can win, they're definitely capable."
"I'm predicting some massive touchdowns from Northwestern," Taphorn added, "and hopefully some thundering defense."
Northwestern fans will hope for not only a football win Saturday, but for the basketball program to reach new heights in the coming years. Between NU's current group of underclassmen and these two future ‘Cats, it's well within the realm of possibility.
"I think the biggest thing is that we have the opportunity," said Sina. "We have the advantage of being in such a great conference. If you can win games in the Big Ten, anything is possible down the line."