Fans were optimistic. It seemed that Mike Rice and company were involved with a bunch of Top 75 players, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Rutgers would land one of them. Then, in the span of less than a week, those hopes took a major hit.
But, is it the end of the world?
Find out after the jump...
It started with a visit by small forward Rondae Jefferson taking a visit to Arizona. Rutgers had been on Jefferson for quite some time, and it seemed like they and Temple were the front runners. But as Jefferson visited the Wildcats, rumors swirled that he would commit on the spot--despite many indications that he wouldn't even decide before January. Fans breathed a sigh of relief, as he left the desert without a commitment. Though, rumors still swirl that he's leaning Wildcat. You can be sure the Scarlet Knight coaching staff has been doing their best to stay with him.
Next came Jermaine Lawrence, Rutgers' top target--another power forward/small forward with NBA skills. Rutgers had been on him the longest and most thought he'd at least make RU one of his final 3. However, last night Lawrence released his top 7, and the Scarlet Knights were not on it. While, no one truly accepted the Knights to be out the likes of Syracuse and UCLA just yet, being eliminated from the race certainly hurts.
And finally, came Kris Jenkins. Ask most experts, and they seemed to think Jenkins, a PF, would choose Rutgers and choose them soon. However, word came down this morning that he chose Villanova. This choice hurt, and it begins to seed doubt into the minds of Rutgers fans.
But, Rutgers fans shouldn't fret, yet. Rice and crew are still involved in a bunch of highly rated forwards, one of which is Tyler Roberson out of Union, NJ. Clearly the next highest ranked player out there, Roberson is being wooed much like Lawrence was being wooed. It'll take a ton of convincing to get Roberson to commit, but according to an article on Zagsblog, Roberson loves Rutgers' staff.
Rice clearly wants a dynamic small forward to replace Dane Miller, and he's also after swingman Josh Hart and BJ Johnson. Both would fill that role, and Hart seems to be quickly rising up the charts. However, in his commitment article with Zagoria, Jenkins says his number 1 job right now is to get Hart to commit to 'Nova. Hart is scheduled to visit Rutgers the weekend of the first home football game. It is urgent for Rice to get the kid on campus.
Rutgers is still chasing point guards as well, as rumor has it they are after both Rysheed Jordan and Roddy Peters. Both would help balance out Rutgers' guard class and let a player at the most important position on the floor mature behind Jerome Seagears, Myles Mack, and Eli Carter.
So, while it seems Rutgers may not knock this class out of the park, there is still a chance to reel in good, very good, players. The key is to bring in a 3 man class better than the 2 man class (Miller and Austin Johnson) that is leaving. If each class is better than the graduating one, Rutgers will be in good shape.
They have a chance, now the staff needs to bring someone home. Hopefully, a commitment will come soon. Maybe even a really good one.
Because Jefferson is still out there...
(hat tip to Matt Hladik for help with this article.)