Northwestern and head coach Chris Collins picked up a big local commitment on Wednesday evening when St. Joseph junior guard Jordan Ash made a verbal commitment to join the Wildcats.
The 6-foot-2, lefty combo guard made the commitment at a press conference at St. Joseph. The commitment is the first for Northwestern in the 2015 class and marks yet another player from the Chicagoland area that has pledged to the Wildcats under Collins.
Ash is the third Chicago Catholic League player to commit to Collins and Northwestern since the former Duke assistant took the job last spring. St. Rita's Vic Law and Fenwick's Scott Lindsey also pledged to play their college ball in Evanston last fall.
Adding a player like Ash gives Collins another local piece to build with and the dynamic and athletic junior gives Northwestern a guard that can play multiple guard spots while also giving them a Big Ten-quality athlete. Ash can play above the rim, has good lateral quickness as a defender and he's also strong enough to play in the Big Ten. Even more impressive about Ash, though, is his improved skill set; he's become a guard that can be a primary ball handler in spot situations and his perimeter jumper has improved immensely since last summer.
Much of the skill work can be credited to Ash's tireless work ethic with high school coach Gene Pingatore and AAU coach Mike Mullins with the Illinois Wolves. Mullins is used to producing Big Ten players that play quality minutes and Northwestern already has two of Mullins' former players on the roster in point guard David Sobolewski (Benet Academy) and wing shooter Nathan Taphorn (Pekin).
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The commitment of Ash also continues the rebuilding effort for Collins as he attempts to get high-level athletes into the equation in Evanston to replace the highly-skilled players that ran former coach Bill Carmody's Princeton-style offense.
It's not that players like Ash -- and the players Collins and his staff recruited in 2014 -- don't possess a high basketball IQ, but Collins understands that you need high-level athletes on the roster in order to compete in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament at the power conference level.
With Ash now in the fold for 2015, Collins will likely have two more scholarships to work with that he'll probably use for a power forward and a solid overall player. Don't be surprised if Collins looks to go with a transfer to balance out the recruiting classes a little bit since Northwestern is bringing in so many new players to rebuild in the 2014 and 2015 classes. Graduate transfers could also come into play and Northwestern will likely be active in searching for the popular one-year senior transfer that has been a major part of the recruiting landscape in recent seasons.
Things are looking up in Evanston and local players respect what Collins brings to the table at Northwestern. Look for the Wildcats to be very active recruiting the Chicagoland area in years to come under this current regime.