Echenique was in Philly yesterday in a losing effort against St. Joe's, and New Jersey Newsroom's Matt Sugam may have been the only reporter in the press box who wanted to quiz Echenique on Rutgers hoops. Understandably, Echenique has long moved on, and didn't exactly want to dwell on ancient history. Still, with Rutgers floundering this year, it's interesting to think of what might have been if Fred Hill was anywhere close to as good of a coach as he was a recruiter.
Echenique quite never lived up to expectations, but as a serviceable big man (touted freshman Kadeem Jack remains injured), Rutgers could desperately use him to pair with Gil Biruta in the frontcourt. Hill built his team around Mike Rosario, and the former scoring dynamo is now a sixth man for the guard-heavy Florida Gators. The freshmen will figure it out in time, but the Knights could definitely use him as well, and like with Tom Savage, you have to wonder if either is second guessing their decisions to transfer in hindsight.
Most surprising of all is that another transfer in Earl Pettis is now a legit scoring threat with La Salle. (Pat Jackson and Brian Okam are just rotational players now, and Christian Morris left Norfolk State after last season for an unknown destination.) That just goes to show the value of senior leadership. You look at Seton Hall, who don't have anything in the way of depth, but their big three (with two battle-tested seniors) are so good that it hasn't mattered so far. This is what everyone expected last year with all of the talent Gonzo left behind.
Eventually, the worm will turn. Jack will get healthy, and things will start to click for the freshman guards. As difficult a price to pay as the loss of senior leadership was, Rutgers basketball would happily do it again in a heartbeat to replace Hill with Mike Rice. For now though, with everything going wrong, you can't help but daydream and wonder what could have been if things had gone different. That is pretty much the eternal burden of Rutgers athletics teams.
(P.S. Yeah, there are two different tri-state areas in NY/NJ/CT and PA/NJ/DE. Sorry for conflating them.)