CHICAGO, ILLINOIS —- on July 4, 2013, Chris Collins received big news. Sure, over the months and days leading up to July 4th, he had received other big news. He received news he was going to be a head coach for the first time at Northwestern University and news that Drew Crawford recommitted to Northwestern for his final year of college eligibility.
But on July 4th, 2013, the news Chris Collins received was news he had been waiting and hoping to hear.
He had his commitment in his first recruiting class at Northwestern, the 2014 recruiting class. But this commitment wasn’t just any commitment. It was ESPN 100 Vic Law, a local product out of St. Rita High School.
NORTHWESTERN IM COMING BABY!!!!— Vic Law (@Followthe_LAW) July 4, 2013
Chris Collins had his first guy. The first guy to believe, the first guy to commit, and the highest ranked recruit in Northwestern history. While Collins would face an uphill battle in building his team, this was a first step, a big first step.
Four years ago, many thought Vic Law sailed in to uncharted waters. He committed to a school that was not known to be a basketball school, had never made an NCAA Tournament, and had a brand new head coach at the helm.
But, four years ago, Law knew what he was sailing in to.
Law had an up-and-down freshman season as he adjusted to college basketball. It wasn’t until the end of his freshman season that he showed fans why he was ranked in the ESPN 100. His breakout game came at the end of February at home against Penn State when he finished his game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He was on the rise and was poised for a breakout sophomore season.
That was, until it wasn’t.
Vic Law played in games on Northwestern’s trip to Spain in the summer of 2015 as well as the exhibition game and home opener games in November of 2015. Shortly after, Northwestern announced that Vic Law would miss the 2015- 2016 season. He had a torn labrum in his left shoulder that needed surgery.
Instead of the breakout sophomore season everyone was hoping for, he spent his sophomore season on the bench watching the team from afar.
He watched as Northwestern lost a close game to Ohio State in the final minutes at home. He watched two nail-biting games against Maryland. He watched as Northwestern got blown out at Indiana and Michigan State. He watched as Northwestern gained momentum in a home win against Wisconsin and then lost a few days later to Penn State at home. He watched as Northwestern lost its postseason hopes in an overtime loss against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
All Law could do was watch. He could coach his teammates from the bench, but he couldn’t be where he needed to be- on the floor with his teammates in the fight.
Law watched from the bench as the team he was a part of that had its best chance in years to make it to the NCAA Tournament in years lost it. A backcourt lead by Tre Demps and big men Alex Olah and Joe Van Zegren in the frontcourt along with Law, Sanjay Lumpkin, Bryant McIntosh and incoming recruits Aaron Falzon and Jordan Ash were supposed to make the right combination for Northwestern to win.
But instead, the Wildcats were home on Selection Sunday. They weren’t playing basketball in March.
A year later, Law was back and better than ever. He reached a new career high, 18 points, in his first game back in purple and white against Mississippi Valley State in November.
Over the course of the season, Law would become Northwestern’s key. A defensive specialist in charge of guarding the best player on the opposing team, Law earned All-Defensive Team honors after the season ended.
But before the honors came, Law dominated all season long. He finished the season as a 40% shooter, averaging 12.3 a game, which is five more than he averaged his freshman year. He shot 40% from three and averaged 5.8 rebounds per game. Most of his rebounding damage was done on the defensive end, where he collected 146.
After a season away, Law came back and became imperative in the success of Northwestern’s season.
In a year when Northwestern’s preseason expectations were low, Law’s dominance on the court proved everyone wrong. But not just his dominance, his leadership on the team and his overall improvment as a player.
Four years ago, Law committed to a school that wasn’t known for men’s basketball.
Four years later, Northwestern has made the NCAA Tournament, and Law’s commitment is one of the main reasons it has had success.