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What Anthony Gaines Brings to Northwestern

Northwestern continues to improve talent-wise under Chris Collins, and added another big piece to its 2017 recruiting class. 

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Chris Collins has Northwestern trending upward. The Wildcats finished last season 20-12 overall, 8-10 in the Big Ten, even though the team failed to beat a ranked opponent (0-7). Record-wise (overall), the team has improved each of his three seasons as head coach. If his recruiting is any indication, the trend ought to continue.

Yesterday, Northwestern got a commitment from Anthony Gaines, an athletic wing and 3-star recruit, according to ESPN, from New Hampton, New Hampshire (originally from Kingston, NY). (Gaines is from New Hampton School, and also played at Kingston High School.) Reportedly, Dayton, Cincinnati and Butler were also interested.

Gaines really impressed, according to Scout.com, while playing with the Albany City Rocks in the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL); he nearly averaged a double-double. Let’s take a closer look at Gaines’s skillset to see what he’ll bring to Northwestern.

Strengths

There’s a lot to like about Gaines and his overall game. It’s pretty evident why Collins wants him at Northwestern. For starters, there’s not a huge weakness in his offensive game. A 6’4” shooting guard, he’ll be on the wing in college, and may be asked to handle the ball a bit. Gaines is good in the open floor with (and without) the ball, and can find open shooters or cutters pretty easily. His vision looks like an underrated part of his game.

Most jump to talk about his athleticism. Certainly, Gaines is a good athlete too. He can finish above and around the rim and is aggressive on the break. Gaines can also drive by people, but always the control; he isn’t forcing shots. If teammates are open, he’ll audible and kick to open shooters or cutters (rather than driving into traffic).

His jumper is solid too. Mainly, Gaines is a stand-alone jump shooter, but he can move a bit into a shot. Particularly, he looks comfortable taking a couple dribbles to his left and pulling up for an under control jumper. His range does extend to the three point line; it’s just not the main part of his game.

Gaines can also mix it up on the glass, and averaged about 14 points and nine rebounds a game for the Albany City Rocks. Wing rebounders, like Gaines, are great assets, because they can get a rebound and immediately start a break.

Areas for Improvement

Gaines could improve all areas of his game (really all freshman could), but he’s building from a very stable foundation. And, there isn’t a glaring weakness, or from watching a bit of him, something he can’t do.

Defensively, it’s always a question whether freshman can make the transition. The talent is better in college, and athleticism advantages from high school don’t always translate. Gaines does have the athleticism to be a very good wing defender in college; it’s just a matter of making the transition.

His jumper is also an area where he could improve, or at least become more dynamic. His mechanics look good; he’ll just need more reps, and to look for ways to expand his offensive game so he’s not one dimensional.

Overall

Gaines is a good recruit for Northwestern. He’ll add some dynamism on the wing, and of course brings talent and depth. His athleticism suggests a pretty high ceiling, and getting into a Big Ten program on the rise, ought to help him develop and expand his game.

Collins has Northwestern on the rise, and just picked up a big recruit for his 2017 class. With Gaines coming on board, it could motivate a couple other important targets to make a commitment.