NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mike Rice on the sideline against the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Jerry Carino, of NJ Hoops Haven fame, was awesome enough to stop by and answer a few questions about Mike Rice and recruiting the 2013 kids. Check it out:
OTB: Okay, break it down. What is Mike Rice looking for in the 2013 class? Is he still trying to stockpile talent or is he looking for something a bit more specific?
JC: When you have three scholarships you're always trying to stockpile talent. That's especially true for Rice, who believes in a deep rotation. In terms of particular needs, Rutgers has depth everywhere. I suppose they could add a five or a shooting wing (maybe that's Vince Garrett, we'll see), but who isn't looking to add those? Big picture, this is an important class for Rice because he's made inroads with several blue-chip guys. He won't get them all, but you would expect one or two impact guys to commit.
OTB: Jermaine Lawrence seems to be the big fish in this recruiting class. Can Rutgers land him? How?
JC: Lawrence is the skilled, athletic big man everybody wants. Rutgers did a good job of identifying him early---long before he blew up---and the fact that his high school coach is a St. Anthony guy won't hurt, because Rice has good ties with the Hurleys. But when the Syracuses of the world are heavily involved the odds are stacked against Rutgers. I would counsel fans to expect Lawrence to go elsewhere and consider it a coup if he winds up on the banks.
OTB: Jaren Sina didn't seem to be on RU's radar until recently. Tell us about Sina's game. Why is RU involved now?
JC: Sina is a point guard with a coach's IQ who shoots like a two guard. His range is outstanding. He's a winner who has played in and won a lot of big games. If he was two inches taller Duke would be beating down his door. Rice and his staff always have liked him, but maybe the feeling wasn't mutual because Rutgers has three young and talented guards already. I still think, even though the interest seems to be mutual now, that could ultimately be the obstacle and Sina might seek to go somewhere he sees as less crowded. But this is recruiting, so you never know.
OTB: Two other names on Rutgers' list are Tyler Roberson and Rondae Jefferson. How do they fit into Mike Rice's system?
JC: Jefferson is a guy Rutgers fans should familiarize themselves with. A high-end, versatile athlete who has a tough North Philly edge. Rutgers was with him early, and Rice has strong ties to the power brokers in that area from his time at St. Joes, etc. Of the guys on the 2013 short list, I think he has the best odds of wearing scarlet. Roselle Catholic's Roberson is a forward with guard skills---a very good passer, certainly a Big East athlete. I know Rutgers has invested a lot of time into his recruitment. I think they have a shot at him.
OTB: One of the biggest failures of recent Rutgers coaches has been the inability to follow up one huge class with another. Gut feeling: Does Mike Rice put together a good class with the 2013 kids?
JC: I would be surprised if they don't land one of the four recruits you mentioned. If they only get one, and fill the other two scholarships with solid but less spectacular contributors, that could qualify as a good class. The big question is can they get two of those four guys? If the answer is yes, then the foundation has been laid for something big. I don't know the answer, but they've got lines in the water where the big fish are swimming and that's a key step.
JC: They should be improved. I have to see more of Garrett and Judge in workouts before I can better project their impact. I know the staff is excited about them. I'm curious to see how much the sophomore guards learn from their mistakes as freshmen. If they do, the depth, balance and experience are there for an NIT berth.
Thanks again, Jerry. Check out his Hoops Haven blog all summer and throughout the upcoming season for more!