Northwestern received some good news from the NCAA on Thursday, as 7-2 freshman center Chier Ajou has been cleared by the organization’s Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.
A native of South Sudan and cousin of Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, Ajou is the tallest recruit in the history of Northwestern Basketball.
There were questions back in June when Ajou committed to Northwestern as to whether or not he would be cleared due to concerns regarding his transcript.
With today’s ruling Wildcat fans no longer need to worry about Ajou’s status, and can instead focus on how his addition can help a team that ranked among the nation’s worst in rebounding last year.
Not only was John Shurna the Wildcats’ leading scorer last season, but he was also their rebounding leader as well with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game.
As a team the Wildcats ranked last in the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive rebounds per game, and their rebounding margin of minus-6.6 was the worst in the conference by more than five rebounds.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers opponents were able to corral nearly 37% of their missed shots, and with the Wildcats lacking much in the way of interior size outside of Luka Mirkovic it’s no surprise that Bill Carmody’s team struggled.
Drew Crawford returns for his senior season and will be the focal point offensively, which shouldn’t be too much to ask of him given the 16.1 points per game he averaged last year.
Crawford also grabbed 4.7 rebounds in 2011-12, which is the high among the returnees with guard Reggie Hearn (3.7 rpg) coming in second.
Obviously Ajou will need some time to get acclimated to college basketball, as is the case with many freshmen. But there’s no ignoring the fact that him being cleared takes care of a major need for the Wildcats inside.