With the start of practice (though workouts are underway), less than 90 days away, and every Rutgers fan super-excited about basketball this year, I figured this was the perfect time to take a look at the depth on the roster and where the position strengths are.
Kadeem Jack is the best player on the team. The offense will run through Jack, and his ability to run the floor like a gazelle. Jack began to develop a deep jumper late last year and showed some touch from the free throw line. If both of those skills improve--to go along with his thunderous dunks--he may be unstoppable.
DJ Foreman will back him up and seems to be the prototypical PF. He is a lefty, athletic and is expected to rebound. Eventually Foreman will develop into a small forward as well, hopefully, but I'm not sure he has the shot to do so quite yet. ESPN recruiting reports say he has some ability to face up. Plus, Rutgers isn't as deep here as they are at wing.
Junior Etou can also play power forward, but we'll look at him on the wing.
Greg Lewis is the upperclassman at the position, and he hasn't played much. A red-shirted junior who's battled injuries nearly his entire career, Lewis was a captain last year and still couldn't find the court all too much. When Lewis was recruited by former coach Mike Rice, he was touted as someone who could be a great big man in the conference. Now, Lewis is looking for consistency. He has flashed a nice baseline jumper at times, and has the build to be a rebounder.
Ibrahima Diallo and Shaquille Doorson are the newest additions, both long and tall freshmen. Both are considered projects who will need time to develop, but they should help early as rim protectors on the defensive end. If either of them shows smooth hands and the ability to pass, they can really earn playing time.
Jack can also fill-in at center.
In the middle of last year, to try and create more height and length in the line-up, Eddie Jordan moved Etou from power forward to the wing position. Expect Etou to spend most of his time there this year too. Etou can rebound with ferocity, shows a nice ability to cut to the basket off the pick and roll. He has some good back to the basket moves and can hit the occasional three point shot. If his deep shot becomes consistent, and he has improved on defense, he can be a force.
Malik Kone, a senior, showed some basketball smarts last year, but has struggled to keep up with the pace of the game at this level. Kone will likely be a role player, and back Etou up off the bench. Kone, when he plays within himself, can play quality minutes.
Ryan Johnson, a freshman out of North Carolina is a shooter. If he can hit the 3 point shot during game time as well as he does in his recruiting film, he will also play some quality minutes on the wing. Having multiple guys who can hit the 3 on the floor at one time can make this team offensively dangerous. Johnson will play some time as long as he can keep up.
Kerwin Okoro can back up here as well.
Bishop Daniels will likely start. Daniels, a one time Miami recruit, who played JUCO for the last year and a half has NBA type athleticism. Known as a pure scorer, look for Daniels to get to the rim off the bounce. He should compliment Jack and Myles Mack nicely and add another scoring threat to the floor, making Rutgers much harder to defend.
Mike Williams is a freshman out of NYC--widely considered the best shooter in the city last year. Williams will come off the bench to provide the deep ball. Early on, Jerry Carino hears Williams has made quite the impression on the coaching staff. He will be valuable.
Okoro will add length and defense in a smaller role. He can hit the 3 at times.
Ironically, Rutgers best guard plays at the team's weakest position. Myles Mack will start here. He can hit the 3, is lethal at the free throw line and turns other teams over for easy points. Mack transitioned to full-time point guard last year and started to look pass first. If, in his senior year, he can continue to do that, he'll make this team much better.
That said, there is no back up point guard, and Mack can't play 35 minutes every night and be effective for an entire season. The back-up role will have to be by committee with Daniels and Williams each take some minutes at the spot.
Rutgers should add more length, scoring and basketball IQ to the floor this year. If the team buys in and plays team ball, they should be able to upset some teams and be a much tougher out. That's the next step for Jordan's squad, as he continues to try and rebuild.
Like mystery novels? Read Dave White's crime novels on your e-Reader. When One Man Dies is available on Kindle, Nook and anywhere else e-books are sold. You can also find the Shamus Award nominated The Evil That Men Do and the best selling Witness to Death in the same places. Cheaper than Starbucks coffee!
Comments, opinions, you can reach Dave here.