When it comes to building a program from the ground up, nothing is more important than young talent. In his brief tenure at Northwestern, Chris Collins has recognized this and now ushers in his strongest recruiting class yet. Ranked currently at #33 in the nation, this class includes possibly the best recruit Northwestern has seen in the past decade. His name, Aaron Falzon.
In its long history, Northwestern has never been a destination school for prized recruits. However, this landing might mark the changing of the tides. Falzon, a 6-7 208 lbs. PF out of Newton, Mass., is only the second four-star recruit for Collins, the first being Vic Law in 2014. While both young players play a small 4 position, Falzon stands out for the diversity in his game. Check it out yourself:
A quick look at his mixtape highlights three main things:
1. Outside Game
One of the most important parts of succeeding at the next level is being able to shoot the basketball, and Falzon can do just that. His range, as demonstrated through his three-point shooting, will add another element to the Wildcats' offense. Traditionally Northwestern has worked with a more traditional lineup, a big man in the center and then a power forward or forward also in the post. However, having a hybrid 4 with the game type of an Andrew Wiggins changes things. This past season, the Wildcats shot a solid 35.9% from beyond the arc. Falzon fits well into Collins' offense and will be valued as much in the post as out of it.
2. Driving in the Lane
Falzon isn't afraid to take it to the hoop. Many big men these days are reluctant to use their size in order to score, but this kid demonstrates poise and confidence in how he plays the game. Forwards his size in the Big Ten usually have more one-dimensional games, be it Indiana's Troy Williams under the hoop or Maryland's Jake Layman from the three-point line, but Falzon demonstrates the ability to do both. His aggressiveness will be key in getting to the foul line, as well as getting other teams into foul trouble. If he is able to attack guys like A.J. Hammons and Diamond Stone in the lane this season, it can do wonders for eliminating them as factors. Northwestern doesn't have anybody that can get to the hoop like Falzon, and his aggressiveness will open up perimeter shooters for the Cats.
3. Defensive Prowess
Partnered alongside Alex Olah, Falzon could become apart of one of the most underrated frontlines in the Big Ten. His ability to block shots is highlighted by his above average athleticism and presence beneath the hoop. He also has demonstrated strong closing speed, coming off screens and picks to block a shot. Northwestern was ranked 124th in the nation last season, giving up and average of 64.6 PPG. With Falzon under the hoop, this should help the Cats contend with some of the more athletics guards in the conference. Gone are the days where D'Angelo Russell drops 33 on NU, Falzon can defend men at or below his size.
No doubt, Aaron Falzon will be fun to watch for Northwestern next year. Every year, the Big Ten brings in dozens of high profile recruits, but Falzon flies under the radar. According to ESPN.com, he is only the 14th best high school player in the 2015 Big Ten class. Without the added pressure, Falzon has the means for a strong freshman season. Cats fans, this should be fun to watch.