Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE
The Magnificent Seven. The best recruiting class in Rutgers history. The class that would bring the glory. Last year they had a ton of highs, but also a bunch of lows. Now they're a year older. What awaits?
Last year, everyone's eyes were upon them, as Rutgers' fans hoped they'd step up early in the year and lead the Scarlet Knights to glory. Alas, that didn't happen. Instead, fans were treated to Eli Carter's explosion against Florida. But there were also the stunning cold offense against Villanova (twice)... and a drubbing from West Virginia (twice). So, have the freshman grown up?
Here's what to look for from the Magnificent Seven:
Myles Mack: The diminutive guard out of St. Anthony's really found his niche once he started coming off the bench last season. Mack showed a knack for the 3 point shot, and impressive speed. This year, apparently, his been one of Mike Rice's best practice players. Dane Miller noted that Mack looks like a running back now, putting on a ton of muscle. Hopefully, Mack won't be pushed around as much this year, and he'll be able to get open more often. Rice also named Mack a captain this year. Look for him to become more and more of a leader on the floor.
Eli Carter: Last year's leading scorer. Eli Carter was great when the team won last year, and decent when they lost. Too often, though, down the stretch Carter would try to make his own shot. There were times where'd he try to be the hero, only to let the opposing defenses key on him. This year, with the addition of Wally Judge down low, look for Carter to be more effective. If defenses have to key on more than one scoring option, Carter will find himself open more often. Plus, if he's stronger too, he'll be able to get to the hoop and finish through contact. That will get him more time at the free throw line. Carter could be in line to have a big year.
Jerome Seagears: Seagears really started to come into his own as the point guard last year. More and more he improved his assist to turnover rate, and really seemed to thrive in his role. Rice needs Seagears to be a true floor general this year. The more of a leader Seagears becomes, the better it will be for the rest of the team. Seagears can to the hoop and shoot the ball pretty well, meaning defenses need to respect him, but if he can get the ball into the hands of the forwards when they're in scoring position, Seagears will have a very successful year.
Malick Kone: Kone, a small foward, battled injury for much of last season. The buzz on Kone was he was going to be the team's best defender once Rice got his hands on him. He was also supposed to be a fantastic shooter. When he was in, Kone showed a knack for getting to the hoop. Look for Kone to spell the wings this year, and gain more playing time as the season goes on.
Kadeem Jack: The jewel of the recruiting class, Jack missed a lot of last year recovering from an injured foot. When he finally got on the court, he often looked lost. But Rice said in his press conference today that Jack was one of the most improved players on the team. Jack is going to be expected to rebound and anchor the press. As he develops, he'll likely become a very good shot blocker, adding a new dimension to Rice's defense. Also look for him to anchor the press. With Judge by his side, Jack should really start to blossom this year.
Derrick Randall: The first player in this class to commit, Randall showed flashes of being a true center and important cog in the rotation. Randall was able to pull down important rebounds, and showed a solid ability to dunk the ball. Unfortunately, he was a bit slight and got pushed around down low, especially as the season wore on. With added bulk and stamina, that should change this year. I think Randall could battle for a starting job if he builds on the promise he showed last year.
Greg Lewis: Lewis didn't get much time last year, and it seemed to take him a while to get his footing. A big body, and one Rice believes can be one of the top big men in the Big East. But Lewis is taking his time to develop. He has a bright future ahead of him, hopefully the fans will get to see more of that promise this year.