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Vic Law, Northwestern, and tapping into Chicago’s talent

Jul 17, 2013, 3:03 PM EST

Jim Phillips, Chris Collins AP

Chicago has always been a hotbed for high school hoops, and while there is always a surplus of talent in the city, the next couple of high school classes are particularly strong in the Windy City.

That fact alone makes Vic Law one of the most important recruits in the city.

He’s certainly not the best, as Rivals has six guys from the Chicago area rated up Law, the No. 86 recruit in the Class of 2014. But he’s smart, with a 3.8 GPA, which made him an ideal target for new Northwestern head coach Chris Collins. Collins, who took over the program in April, earned a commitment from Law on July 4th.

Now, this commitment was important for a couple of reasons.

When was the last time that a player as talented as Law — a 6-foot-7 wing ranked in the top 100 with the chance to go to any number of NCAA tournament stalwarts — picked Northwestern? His decision came down to the Wildcats and VCU. And Northwestern won. That means something, because it’s been so long since Northwestern has won anything.

It’s particularly important for Collins, who is taking over a new program. He needed to get on the board before July to help sell the fact that the Class of 2014 could be the class to make Northwestern relevant.

But it was also important for him to show the city that it was OK to go to Northwestern. Take a look at Law’s first impression of the school, via Luke Winn’s story on Law’s commitment:

“When we went up there to visit [sophomore year],” Law Sr. said, “Carmody came across as arrogant — like that the university would sell itself, and either you want to come here or you don’t. And I’m saying to myself, ‘You haven’t won anything!’ You had a sour taste in your mouth when you left, and to be honest with you, had Carmody still been there, we never would have considered Northwestern. Not ever. That’s how bad it was for us.”

The fact that Carmody’s Wildcats slow-played their offer to Law — initially telling St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare, according to Law Sr., that they had higher-priority targets for 2014 — further soured the situation.

That’s a good way to recruit.

Tell a top 100 kid from Chicago with grades good enough to get into Northwestern without the hoops scholarship that there are higher-priority targets. Right. Because Northwestern was getting so many top 100 players previously.

I’m sure that the Laws weren’t alone in their experiences, either.

Could Vic’s commitment be what breaks down the barrier between Northwestern and Chicago?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.