At about 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in July, Northwestern's men's basketball coach Bill Carmody is running his team through drills. If you didn't know it was the middle of summer, this group would have you believe it was more like November or December with the way they were running the floor.
Height? That they have with new additions in 6-8 Jared Swopshire, a Louisville graduate transfer, and TCU transfer Nikola Cerina.
Athleticism? Yes, with all the dunking and speed on display that is obvious.
"As you can see, we're out there competing and having fun this summer," Swopshire said. "I'm loving my teammates and the coaches and getting the work in with them. Everyone has matured, so the guys who have come back have another year under their belts. We have four freshmen, and myself. We have more size and more depth."
With the way the Wildcats have struggled with defense -- especially rebounding -- the past few years, adding a big guy like Swopshire should help. Swopshire said he brings his defense to the table and considers himself a leader on the defensive end.
His leadership probably comes in part from playing for a guy like Rick Pitino at Louisville, and Swopshire is hoping some of that experience will rub off on this new group of teammates.
"Preparing yourself and competing every day is what I learned and he did a great job of pushing his players every day in practice. That's what I want to bring to these guys: every day is a new day," Swopshire said.
Swopshire has been in Evanston for about a month and is taking graduate classes in summer school. He says the adjustment has been smooth, and he is healthy after missing his junior year at Louisville with a groin injury.
"The veterans are working with me on the offense and it's been a great adjustment," Swopshire said. "Drew [Crawford], Reggie [Hearn], Tre [Demps] at some point have been working on things. And everyone is trying to help everyone else.
"The Big Ten is a great league and is probably the best league in college basketball right now. I'm looking forward to it."
A team spokesperson said Wednesday that even though Sudan native Chier Ajou, the cousin of Bulls star Luol Deng, has been admitted to the university, Ajou still needs NCAA clearance to suit up for the Wildcats. The holdup is, of course, due to paperwork. The NCAA has requested Ajou's original transcripts from Sudan in order to clear him for play this season, and the spokesperson said there is no timetable for the NCAA's decision on Ajou.
Ajou's situation already being said, NU is still in a holding pattern with wide receiver Kyle Prater. After transferring to NU in January from USC for family reasons, Prater had been tweeting about his waiver status every so often. But things started to reach a fevered pitch on Twitter the past couple of weeks with Prater's cryptic tweets causing people to think the waiver had gone through -- with no definite word from the athletic department.
But earlier this week, Prater shut himself down. He tweeted that he will no longer send out any tweets regarding his waiver status, opting instead to wait out the news and not speculate just like everyone else.