With only eight returning scholarship players this fall plus two incoming freshmen, Northwestern basketball has high expectations for its 2021 recruiting class, and so far coach Chris Collins appears to be delivering.
The Wildcats got a commitment Saturday night from four-star prospect Casey Simmons, a 6-foot-5 wing from Milton Academy in Massachusetts. He joins four-star guard Julian Roper from suburban Detroit and three-star wing Brooks Barnhizer of Lafayette, Ind., in Collins’ 2021 haul.
While it’s early in the cycle, Northwestern’s class currently ranks third in the country in the 247Sports.com composite.
Roper has a national composite ranking of 102nd, and his composite rating of .9575 is the second-highest for a Northwestern recruit in the recruiting-website era (roughly since 1999). Pete Nance, a rising junior forward for the Wildcats, had a .9654 composite rating and was ranked 88th in the Class of 2018.
The top-ranked player in Massachusetts, Simmons chose Northwestern from an offer list that included Boston College, Georgetown, Miami, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Texas and Xavier.
“Northwestern is a great school, and my family and I value education heavily,” Simmons told 247. “Although they didn’t have a good year last year, I can sense that things will be looking up. In addition to that, there will be an opportunity for me early on to fight for minutes and play a contributing role.”
Collins also is heavily recruiting five-star prospects Patrick Baldwin Jr. of suburban Milwaukee and Max Christie of Rolling Meadows.
While potentially all 10 of Northwestern’s current scholarship players could return in 2021-22, if senior guard Anthony Gaines seeks and receives a fifth season after missing most of 2019-20 with a shoulder injury, additional spots in the 2021 class might open via transfers and/or if Gaines does not return.
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