So far, Eddie Jordan has done everything right. He's recruiting his butt off and trying to build a competitive team for next year.
And with news breaking that Jerome Seagears has left Auburn and is rumored to want to come back to Rutgers, it's time to look at Rutgers basketball next year....
.... if everything goes right.
So, let's say everything good that can happen to Rutgers basketball does happen. What does next year look like?
G Jerome Seagears (let's say he comes back)
SF JJ Moore (let's say he receives his transfer waiver request)
PF Wally Judge
That is probably the most talented, veteran team Rutgers has had since 2003-04. Mack and Seagears developed some good chemistry after Eli Carter went down last year, and they'll be making the jump to their junior years. They'll have been through the wars, and hopefully, know what it takes to make the next step. Both can slash and hit the 3.
JJ Moore is a talent that hasn't made the jump to starter that Pittsburgh may have expected. He wants to get out and run, and he can hit the 3. And he'll be a senior leader who's been the NCAA tournament and played a role. This is his last chance. Could he have a Jonathan Mitchell type impact?
Wally Judge was an anchor last year. While he didn't live up the hype, he was solid on the boards even when he was slowed by a bad knee. And he was dominant against DePaul in the Big East Tournament (yes, I know it's DePaul, but he was dominant).
Kadeem Jack seems to be burgeoning into a superstar. If he can make the jump this year, he could be the lynchpin to a successful season. Long, with a jump shot. He can also run the floor. He can make Rutgers exciting next year.
G D'Von Campbell
G Kerwin Okoro (come on, give him the waiver)
G Logan Kelly
SF/G Craig Brown
SF/PF Malick Kone
F Junior Etou (let's say he's eligible)
F Greg Lewis
Not much is known about a lot of these players. Kone is long and athletic, and seemed to suffer Mike Rice the most. Maybe Jordan helps him out of his shell. Okoro is long and has potential to be a defensive stopper. Campbell is short but quick, by all accounts. Rumor has it Brown can hit the 3, and other wise is a "do it all" type player. Etou will be expected to rebound. Greg Lewis is coming off a redshirt year. The staff seems to have a lot of faith in him. Logan Kelly was offered a scholarship by Jordan this year, as a reward. There is depth here, and it seems that each player fills a role. A lot of the bench is unknown, but they need to know what their role is on the court when they see time.
THE BIG QUESTION (if all the Ifs come through)
Honestly, the biggest question is Eddie Jordan. The man can coach, that's clear. He's dealt with difficult personalities in the NBA and brought one of the worst teams to four consecutive postseason appearances. But, Mike Rice and Fred Hill relied too much on 1 player. Hill gave Mike Rosario the greenlight, and Rice wanted Eli Carter to do it all.
Jordan needs to get this team to buy-in and gel. While the new league is not a cakewalk, it is much easier than the old Big East was, and much easier than the B1G will be. There is an opportunity to make noise, and build on the promise of Mike Rice's first recruiting class. If Jordan can create chemistry and trust on this team, watch out.
But, if a player isn't getting the time he was promised, or someone's shot is off for too long, even a talent team can suffer.