By Joe Henricksen
As Northwestern embarks on what could be a monumental and momentum-changing season this winter, the Wildcats continue to pump up their roster with Chicago area talent. The latest is Mike Turner of University High in Chicago, who verbally committed to the Wildcats on Sunday.
"Northwestern provided an excellent mix of athletics and academics," said Turner on his commitment to the Wildcats. "I wanted a place where I can potentially thrive on the basketball side of things and academically. Northwestern offers that and at a very high level."
Turner also admits the rise in Northwestern basketball and the high expectations the program has going forward was enticing.
"I admit, that played a part in it," Turner said of the improvement the program has continued to show. "They are on the rise and I'm excited to have a chance to be a part of it."
With the 6-7 Turner, who completed his official visit this weekend, it's all about upside and potential. While it's a cliché, the fact is Turner's best basketball is clearly ahead of him. Turner is a nice face-up 4-man who has shown an ability to play away from the basket and knock down shots with a soft shooting touch. He has length and some bounce but will need to add weight and strength in time. In addition, Turner fits in nicely in coach Bill Carmody's system and style of play.
With assistant coach Tavaras Hardy leading the charge, Northwestern has certainly made its presence felt in recruiting Chicago -- and beyond. And now with some success and exposure to build on, Northwestern basketball has put itself in a position where it can recruit at a higher level.
There are currently six players on the roster from the Chicago area, including top players John Shurna of Glenbard West, Juice Thompson of Lincoln Park and Drew Crawford of Naperville Central. Plus, the Wildcats will be adding Turner and Benet Academy point guard David Sobolewski, the Hoops Report's No. 11 ranked player in Illinois in a loaded class, next season.
Northwestern has also been able to target specific prospects and needs outside the state and have success. Current freshman Jershon Cobb out of Atlanta, a 6-4 guard, is one of the top recruits Northwestern has ever landed. And Turner and Sobolewski will be joined in the 2011 recruiting class by 6-3 guard Tre Demps of San Antonio.