Jared Jones announced Tuesday that he will be transferring from Northwestern after an up-and-down freshman season.
April 21, 2020
Jones was the backup center for the Wildcats, playing behind fellow freshman Ryan Young. Jones came in and played limited minutes in the first half of the season as he adjusted to the size and athleticism of college basketball. He gradually earned more trust from Chris Collins as the season progressed, earning him more minutes. He finished the season averaging 2.9 ppg and 2.1 rpg in 10 minutes per contest. However, there were encouraging signs in the last month or so of the season after he had a three-game stretch scoring 7, 11, and then 12 points in the first three games of February.
While the transfer hurts the Wildcats’ frontcourt depth, it isn’t debilitating because of who will be on the roster next season. Ryan Young returns after showing that he can hang with a talented group of big men in the conference. He was the most reliable option on offense at times this season for Collins, with a creative mix of low-post moves. With more experience, he should be able to learn the ins and outs of competing in the Big Ten and develop physically to withstand guys like Luka Garza, Kofi Cockburn, and Nate Reuvers.
2020 Matt Nicholson (Clarkston HS) with another triple double last night in the W over N Farmington.— Endless Motor Sports (@endless_motor) February 29, 2020
The Northwestern commit absolutely dominated the paint.
Protected the rim, good footwork in the paint and great touch as a finisher. @mtnicholso20 @ClarkstonBball pic.twitter.com/2TxSOdDXGN
In addition to the return of Young, Northwestern also brings in freshman Matt Nicholson. The Michigan-native is somewhat of a late bloomer, growing to 7’1” in the past year or so after being listed at 6’8” in his 247 profile. Nicholson spent his first couple years of varsity learning from current Michigan State players Thomas Kithier and Foster Loyer. This helped Nicholson lead Clarkston High School to a 22-1 record behind his 16.9 ppg and 13.7 rpg. This earned him a spot as one of the five finalists for Michigan’s Mr. Basketball. Nicholson should be able to come in right away and play quality minutes backing up Young, while further developing his body.
In the grand scheme of things, Jones’s transfer hurts the Wildcats next season because they are losing a talented, young big man that is physically ready to compete in the Big Ten. However, he most likely would have been the third big in the rotation so his minutes may have decreased from already-limited playing time this past season. Jones also was a little bit of a tweener considering how Collins likes to work his rotation. Robbie Beran and Pete Nance are the prototype stretch fours that Collins wants to utilize. That leaves Jones having to compete at the 5, which he would have to improve at to overtake Young on the depth chart.
One thing to keep in mind for Wildcats’ fans is that this opens up another scholarship spot to potentially fill in the 2021 recruiting class. Northwestern’s staff has hit the recruiting trail hard lately and has put themselves in a really good position with quite a few talented high schoolers. Chris Collins and his staff appear to be the favorite for top-150 shooting guard, Julian Roper out of Michigan. Top-100 combo guard, Tamar Bates, is also very interested in the Wildcats.
What would set the 2021 class apart from the rest is if Collins can convince consensus five stars Patrick Baldwin Jr. and/or Max Christie to commit, as both players have deep roots to Evanston, including both being Northwestern ball boys as kids. Christie plays at nearby Rolling Meadows High School and his mom was a 1,000-point scorer at Northwestern. Baldwin Jr. has even deeper ties to the program. His dad was an assistant coach at Northwestern under Chris Collins, prior to taking the head coaching position at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Baldwin Sr. is one of the best guards in Northwestern basketball history and Jr. may decide that he wants to play at Welsh-Ryan Arena, just a couple blocks away from where he went to grade school.
However, in order to reel in any of these big-time recruits, Collins may have to show that the Tournament appearance in 2017 was not a fluke. We’ll have to wait and see.