It's very nearly basketball season, Bulls Madness is a week old, and our men's and women's previews are ramping up, so it's also a good chance to check in on the recruiting front. Hurley's first class is on campus for their first season together now, and his second class is already two-deep as he and Nate Oats flex their muscles in the Great Lakes.
Both of UB's Class of 2015 recruits offered Verbal Commitments in the second half of September, and while I caught the Nate Navigato news on Twitter when it happened, Nick Perkins a few days later slipped under my radar.
Nate Navigato - 6'7" PF - Geneva, Illinois
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/lnRWAW_22AA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
I am no good at evaluating highlight videos, so I'll leave that to someone else. Bobby Frasco hasn't even suited up for the Bulls yet, but it's almost too easy to draw comparisons between the UB freshman and the Geneva senior. Both Chicago-area recruits played the small/shooting forward position and can light it up from three, though Navigato is taller and a more prolific scorer than Frasco.
Navigato started on Geneva's varsity team as a sophomore, and averaged 16 points and five rebounds, before improving those numbers to 18 and seven in his junior year. In that sophomore year, he was named All-Conference, All-Area, and All-State Honorable Mention while this past year saw Geneva win its first sectional title in 30 years. For what it's worth, earlier this summer, the blog Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye had named him one of the state's 'top 5 under-recruited prospects."
Navigato's AAU coach, speaking to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, notes that in his last season Navigato shot nearly 90% from the free throw line and over 50% from the floor.
Nate Navigato of Geneva boys basketball team selects University at Buffalo - Chicago Tribune
Navigato: "A lot of people don't know how nice Buffalo is."
Nick Perkins - 6'8" PF - Detroit, Michigan
Nate Oats, man. By this time next year UB will have three players from Oats' state championship team from Romulus, MI, two more from Detroit in Mory Diane and Perkins, and three more from the Great Lakes for whom Oats was the lead recruiting: Lamonte Bearden, Frasco, and Navigato. The #NateOatsPipeline is real, and it is only getting bigger.
Anyway, Nick Perkins. Nick Perkins is pretty good at basketball. No, really good at basketball. The game of basketball. Nick Perkins excels at it. And Buffalo is going to look real good for getting in on him early if he continues to improve in his senior year
After transferring to Milan before his sophomore year, he really blossomed in Milan's title run to the Michigan Class B State Title. The power forward had averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game during the regular season, but scored 14 or more in each of Milan's final six games on their way to a 26-3 record and first state title since 1948. The run was punctuated by 30 very loud points in the regional final against Grosse Ile.
Perkins in his recruitment was looking for a place where he can step right in as a freshman, and with Buffalo losing Javon McCrea, Will Regan, and Xavier Ford from its forward ranks in the two seasons prior to his arrival, Perkins felt the Bulls would be a good fit. By the end, it was Buffalo and Akron gunning for his commitment, which I like because Akron has done a lot of things right since the LeBron Class, and beating them out means we're getting a quality player.
Have great senior years, Nate and Nick! We'll be waiting for you.