Men’s Basketball: Northwestern adds 2021 commit Casey Simmons, second-highest rated recruit in program history

Chris+Collins+and+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+coaches+watch+from+the+sidelines.+Saturday+night%2C+they+received+a+commitment+from+a+top-100+forward%2C+Casey+Simmons.

Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Chris Collins and Northwestern’s coaches watch from the sidelines. Saturday night, they received a commitment from a top-100 forward, Casey Simmons.

Charlie Goldsmith, Reporter

Since Chris Collins was hired to coach Northwestern in 2013, the Wildcats have had some big wins on the recruiting circuit. On July 4, 2013, Vic Law called Collins and gave the new head coach his first recruit.

In June 2017, Pete Nance went to campus for a visit and quickly became the highest-rated player NU has ever signed. A few months later, Miller Kopp gave the Cats another top-100 recruit.

Now, NU has another victory to add to that list.

Four-star forward Casey Simmons, ranked No. 91 in the country by ESPN and No. 102 by 247 Sports, committed to Northwestern on Saturday night and became the second-highest rated recruit in program history, according to 247 Sports.

After choosing NU over offers from Texas, Pitt, Penn State and others, Simmons will join the Cats’ 2021 recruiting class, which is now ranked third in the nation by 247 Sports.

NU has built one of the best recruiting classes in program history despite challenging circumstances. Since the college basketball season was canceled in March due to COVID-19, coaches haven’t been able to see recruits in person. And recruits haven’t been able to take campus visits, tour schools’ basketball facilities or spend time with potential future teammates.

Despite those impediments on the recruiting trail, the Cats have three commits before the beginning of July, which hadn’t happened before during Collins’ tenure as the NU’s head coach.

Simmons, a rising senior at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, will join four-star guard Julian Roper and three-star guard Brooks Barnhizer in the Cats’ 2021 class.

Simmons had just narrowed his college list down to seven schools Tuesday, but in five days NU’s coaches convinced Simmons to play his college career in Evanston.

They did get some help.

Hours after Simmons announced his top-seven list, Barnhizer said he reached out to Simmons to help recruit him to Northwestern. After Barnhizer committed to play for the Cats earlier this week, he said he was swayed by the way Roper, incoming freshman guard Ty Berry, sophomore forward Robbie Beran and redshirt sophomore center Ryan Young connected with him through social media.

Barnhizer said he wanted to pay it forward by reaching out to Simmons, and expected that same group of players to connect with Simmons as well.

Barnhizer called Simmons a “long-bodied wing with athleticism. Somebody that can play really good defense, jump out of the gym.”

Following Simmons’ commitment, the Cats have allocated all 13 of their allotted scholarships for the 2021-2022 season.

In an interview with Rivals.com, Simmons said he sees Northwestern as a place where he could gain high-level experience as he works to make it to the NBA.

“I think the coaching staff is supportive of me and is willing to work with me to help me get to the NBA,” Simmons told Rivals.com. “Northwestern is a top-tier school and I value education and academics. The Big Ten is also a great conference and I will be able to showcase my talents on that stage.”

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Twitter: @CharlieG__

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