What a week it was for Northwestern basketball.
The Wildcats picked up two Rivals150 players last week when point guard Jordan Lathon and forward Pete Nance committed within a span of four days. Northwestern carried the momentum of making the first NCAA Tournament in school history onto the recruiting trail, making a big national splash with the first two commits of the 2018 class.
It certainly got the attention of Rivals’ basketball recruiting staff.
“Together, the duo is a fantastic start for (head coach) Chris Collins in 2018,” said Rivals national basketball recruiting analyst Corey Evans. “They not only picked up two very talented prospects but also found two ballplayers that will buy into their culture and also display excellent intangibles and character traits.”
Eric Bossi, who runs Rivals basketball recruiting, added, “They've been steadily building up their recruiting and after making their first NCAA Tournament last season, they are cashing in. Also, moving forward it's great to have two guys like this in your back pocket when chasing after other targets like Talen Horton-Tucker and Miller Kopp."
We asked Bossi and Evans – two analysts that have watched both new Wildcats play in person – their thoughts on the Wildcats shiny, new commits.
Lathon, a three-star, 6-foot-4 lead guard from Grandview (Mo.) ranked 128th in the nation, is slated to replace star Bryant McIntosh, who graduates after the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Bossi thinks that Lathon, who chose Northwestern over Illinois, Butler, Iowa State and Wake Forest, among others, has the skills to one day take over for McIntosh as Northwestern’s lead guard, a guy who can both distribute the ball and score.
"Jordan Lathon is a kid that I've had an opportunity to watch up close because I live in Kansas City where he's from. He has all of the physical attributes that you look for in terms of size and athleticism and he's kid that I think will be able to play both the point and shooting guard positions," said Bossi.
"What's impressed me the most about Jordan has been his development and maturation as a player and person. He's really figured out how to let his game do his talking for him and he's learned to focus on the things that he can control while getting in the gym and polishing his game. As a result, his jump shot, decision making and ball handling have all improved."
Evans thinks that Lathon will continue his development at the next level.
“Lathon is a tough and competitive guard that has become a better athlete within recent years,” said Evans. “He can be leaned upon for his scoring abilities as he can convert from each level on the floor. Lathon is the type of prospect that should continue to improve each year at Northwestern. Seeing that Bryant McIntosh is entering his last year of eligibility, Lathon will have to become a better facilitator and decision maker.”
Nance, from Arkon (Ohio) Revere, is the highest-rated recruit of Chris Collins’ career in Evanston. The 6-foot-8 forward is ranked No. 39 in the nation and chose Northwestern over finalists Michigan and Ohio State, among others.
Long and athletic, Nance has shooting range and a skill set unusual for a big man. He also has NBA bloodlines as the son of former NBA player Larry Nance and brother of Larry Nance Jr., who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"With Pete Nance, it's all about the upside,” said Bossi. “He's got great size, he's got some long arms and he is a good athlete who plays a skill-based game. Combine that with the knowledge that his father played in the NBA, that his brother was a late-bloomer who made the NBA and it's hard not to think he has a huge upside.
"Nance hasn't been exposed to a lot of elite competition just ye,t and the times he has played against it his production has been a bit inconsistent. But, the key with Nance is about where he will be two or three years from now and not where he is today."
“Nance is a tremendous addition with his best ball way ahead of him. Getting stronger is a major need and so is developing more of a back to the basket game,” he said. “Not a super explosive athlete like his brother, Nance still is a fluid one that can produce in the open floor but is actually best served in a point-forward capacity. He has an excellent feel for the game and is a tremendous passer of the ball out of high-ball screen sets.”