PurpleWildcats.com will be in attendance for the Northwestern basketball team camp this weekend. The event hosts several key targets, youngsters and players from across the Midwest.
It's a novel concept. Chris Collins and his staff have the opportunity to watch players early in the 2015 recruiting cycle. Some may be nearing offers, some are star players and others are looking to make their names.
Regardless, it's a major event for the program—which wants even more validation. This could be smart, and not just for the opportunity to once again host 5-star power forward Henry Ellenson. Team camp is part of creating a better basketball culture for NU. We'll track it as best we can.
Here are some potential storylines:
Henry Ellenson— The 5-star power forward from Rice Lake (Wis.) visits Northwestern again this weekend. An ambitious target, he holds offers from schools including Wisconsin, Duke, UCLA and Michigan State. Regardless, Collins hopes to pull off a major recruiting upset. He'll be playing too, of course, so we'll get a chance to further evaluate his terrific skillset.
The Kenwood duo— NU has two remaining scholarships for the class of 2015. We like Aaron Falzon to take one spot, with a handful of favorites for the second spot. Then, they'll need to move to 2016, with another crucial class upcoming. Two major figures will be Kenwood (Ill.) standouts Nick Robinson and Zion Morgan. Robinson impresses with his versatile game. "Versatile" is the most overused word in basketball, but he's a long 6-foot-6 athlete with good court vision and an improving midrange shot. Morgan is an impressive creator who can post up smaller guards and score from all over the floor.
Mike Smith— NU can start pursuing its long-term goals. Last season, Collins needed to rush to recruit 2014 prospects and start looking at 2015 players. When they move on to the class of 2016, one of these guys could be Fenwick's Mike Smith. A potential high-upside local point guard, he played with Scott Lindsey. He's a 5-foot-10 scorer who's still developing, and a potential compelling look for the NU staff.
Matt Heldt— Heldt's another mystery project. The Neenah (Wis.) prospect holds one major offer from Marquette, and the rest are from mid-major schools. He'll play in front of NU coaches this weekend. We could discount Heldt, and an offer seems unlikely, but crazier things have happened. For example, Lindsey and Gavin Skelly were further down the NU recruiting board last year before their July performance. Heldt, a center, might be worth watching, and we'll see how well he plays.
Jalen Brunson— He's not considering NU, but hey, he's on campus.
Overall, though, this event could be important for the future of Northwestern basketball. Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for live updates throughout the weekend.