Northwestern's 2016 recruiting class will be arriving on campus in a few weeks to begin their work as Wildcats. Chris Collins and his staff are adding a center a small forward, and a guard. These players are going to play crucial roles for the Wildcats on the offensive and defensive end next year as the 'Cats will look to fill the scoring output and minutes of Tre Demps and Alex Olah. Let's take a look at the class and see what to expect:
Small Forward: Rapolas Ivanauskas
Rapolas Ivanauskas is a small forward out of Barrington, Illinois. He played his first three high school seasons at Barrington High School before transferring to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire to play his senior year. Ivanauskas is rated as a high 3-star recruit by 247Sports and the highest- rated recruit in the 2016 class. Ivanauskas had two other Big Ten offers from Iowa and Purdue as well as interest from multiple Big Ten schools. Ivanauskas has an impressive highlight reel from his time at Barrington High School. He likes to hang around the rim to dunk and shoot layups but also showed that he has an outside shooting game. Ivanauskas has the potential to be a reliable player off the bench to come in and contribute meaningful minutes on offense. Northwestern does not have a wing player that can consistently get to the rim, so Ivanauskas will help fill that void.
Center: Barret Benson
Barret Benson is another local recruit out of Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Illinois. Benson was a highly touted recruit who had offers from Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Nebraska and Penn State. He is a 3-star recruit, according to 247Sports. The 2016 class did not have a lot of Centers, so for Chris Collins and his staff, this is an important recruit. Last year, Collins had Alex Olah and Virgina Tech transfer Joey VanZegren playing the position. In the middle of the season when Olah went down with a stress fracture and VanZegren was recovering from a similar injury, Dererk Pardon burned his redshirt and made his debut. Pardon has a half- season of experience underneath his belt and Benson will look to come in and share the spot with him. Benson is a defensive threat around the rim and he can block shots. As seen in his highlights, he also has an impressive mid-range jumper that will come in handy and opens up his game for opposing defenses to pay attention to him all over the floor. Benson will be an important player coming off the bench and giving Pardon a break.
Guard: Isiah Brown
Isiah Brown is a guard out of Nine Mile Falls, Washington. He played high school basketball at Lakeside High School. Brown is another 3-star recruit according to 247Sports. Although he did not receive many offers out of high school, his highlight reel exemplifies why Chris Collins and his staff recruited Brown to play at Northwestern. He has hints of Scottie Lindsey and Tre Demps in his game, which is a perfect fit for Northwestern. As seen in his highlights, Brown has the ability to create his own shot and he can drive to the lane or shoot well from beyond the arc. It is not clear who will start next to Bryant McIntosh in the back court this season, but you can expect to see Isiah Brown with him during the game. His shooting off the bench will come in handy, and he can handle the ball on the court when Mcintosh needs a break. Th second guard spot is arguably the most important spot for the Wildcats next year, as Tre Demps averaged 37 minutes per game next year. Northwestern also has Jordan Ash in addition to Scottie Lindsey who will have another off-season to develop his game.
These three recruits are great adds to Chris Collins' roster. The added depth at Guard, Forward and Center will be important for this team as they will look to make a post-season appearance for the first time in Chris Collins' career at Northwestern.