Every week, the BTPowerhouse Friday Power Bar will detail what’s going on across the league on the recruiting trail.
As the NBA offseason quickly morphs into the real-life version of a video game, scrambling to pack every superstar into four teams, the Big Ten had an enormous week in recruiting. Several on campus visits from highly ranked prospects resulted in signings. Much of the 2018 class, it seems, is not concerned with taking their time committing. Signs of fan outrage have been met with crickets.
Let’s take a look at this week’s recruiting headlines.
Northwestern Collects Two Four-Star Commitments.
What a week for Northwestern.
It all started Sunday. A quiet weekend, sulking in the doldrums of June sports, saw highlights only found on the baseball diamond or Adrian Wojnarowski’s twitter feed. But from that darkness sprung the Wildcats, chest pumped and full of elation as news broke of four-star target Jordan Lathon’s intent to play in Evanston.
The fervor would not stop there. A mere four days later, yet another four-star prospect would don the purple and white. Pete Nance, son to former Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance, and younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr., chose Northwestern over fellow Big Ten schools in Michigan and Ohio State.
For Lathon, the commitment throws water on his scorching hot stock. The point guard effectively utilized the AAU circuit to make a name for himself, increasing his stars and rank along the way.
By choosing Northwestern, Lathon spurned Illinois, Iowa State, Butler, and Wake Forrest, all of whom were announced as finalists at the beginning of the month. Following a visit to Iowa State, the Missouri product headed to Northwestern and never looked back.
“It came down to Northwestern and Iowa State,” Lathon told Pat Lawless of MADEHoops. “My gut feeling told me that trusting in Coach Collins and his staff would be the best decision for me and my family.”
Meanwhile, Pete Nance kept a keen eye on the Wildcats. As far back as April, the 6-foot-8 forward listed Northwestern among his final three considerations.
After initially appearing as a favorite to land with Ohio State, Thad Matta’s departure seemingly slammed the door on Nance’s fate as a Buckeye. The hype for Michigan came next, and with an impending official visit, Wolverine whispers began to crescendo. Ultimately, though, Northwestern emerged victorious in securing the big man’s talents.
The Wildcats now sport two top 150 prospects for their 2018 recruiting class. Just two months later, the University’s contract extension of Chris Collins already appears to be paying big dividends on the recruiting trail.
Darius Bazley Visits Indiana, Comes Away with Scholarship Offer.
Former Ohio State commit Darius Bazley took an unofficial visit to Bloomington on Tuesday, and the Hoosiers certainly liked what they saw. Bazley came away with a scholarship offer, piling on to a growing list. In addition to Indiana, the 6-foot-9 forward holds offers from Louisville, Georgetown, Florida, Cincinnati, and Xavier, among others.
Bazley resembles the prototypical small forward. Possessing an overabundance of length and athleticism, the four-star prospect can score in a multitude of ways and at all three levels. There is skill scattered throughout every aspect of his game.
Bazley is currently the top ranked player in Ohio, and the 43rd player nationally, per 247Sports.
Ohio State Offers 4-Star Point Guard Eric Ayala.
Ohio State became the latest school to offer Wilmington, DE guard Eric Ayala on Thursday. The Buckeyes join the immense hoard of programs looking to add the point guard to their roster. The swarm of suitors consists of Arizona, UConn, Maryland, Oregon, Syracuse, Indiana, and Illinois, among a slew of other.
Currently, Syracuse appears to be the front runner. According to 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, the 6-foot-5 combo guard is likely to pick the Orange. As we all know, however, recruiting consensus is a fickle beast.
The prevailing story surrounding Ayala is a potential for reclassification. Presently a member of the 2018 class, Ayala has given the idea of flipping to the 2017 class serious consideration.
“As far as a re-classing, it's still up in the air,” Ayala told Andrew Slater of 247Sports. “I'm probably going to get more deep into it after July. I'm going to see who come in, who come out. I'm definitely close to making a decision. I think about it a lot. I'm definitely tuned in.”
If Ayala does decide to reclassify, the clock is ticking. Assimilating into a program’s system, mentality, and culture won’t happen overnight.
One thing is for sure – Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes could certainly use his immediate help.
Check back next week for more Big Ten recruiting headlines.