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Rutgers Men's Basketball Recruiting Updates

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The Rutgers men's basketball team has been practicing for almost a full month now, with the first game less than two weeks away. However, Eddie Jordan, along with assistants Van Macon, Greg "Shoes" Vetrone and Dalip Bhatia, continues to beat the path on the recruiting trail. They have had tremendous success the past 6 months in landing Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent and 4-star guard Kwe Parker (UPDATE: Parker decommited). The staff has been relentless working to identify talent that fits well into the program. Eddie Jordan made some interesting comments at Big Ten media day a couple of weeks ago about the type of players they are targeting.

Eddie is being realistic and also efficient in how the staff spends their time on the recruiting trail. They will continue to target local top talent, like Taurean Thompson, but they won't waste their time if landing them doesn't seem realistic. As I've said before, Eddie's ability to learn and adapt on the job has been both  refreshing and necessary for him to be successful. We covered updates on new targets and offers for both classes of 2016 & 2017 back in late September. There have been several new offers made in October and the program was busy hosting multiple recruits the weekend of the Ohio State football game.  Let's get caught up on all the activity.

New Offers

Andrew Platek

The 6'4" shooting guard plays for Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts and has made a name for himself on the AAU circuit this summer. Platek is a pure shooter with deep range and has emerged on the scene in recent months, picking up a bevvy of offers. According to 247sports.com, Platek has offers from Miami (FLA), Penn State, George Washington, Davidson, St. Joseph's, UPenn, Yale and Iona, among others.  Add Rutgers to the list, as they offered while Platek visited for the Ohio State football game. While Rivals and 247 recruiting sites don't have him rated, ESPN rates Platek with 4 stars and the 35th best shooting guard in the class of 2017.  He is consistent with his shooting mechanics and is also an excellent passer. He needs to continue to develop physically and get stronger to prepare for the next level.  Platek's continued development will be interesting to track during the upcoming season.

Niem Stevenson

Stevenson is a 6'4" JUCO shooting guard who is starting his second season for Seward County CC in Kansas.  He is starting to generate interest of many high major teams, including Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma State as well as mid-major power Wichita State.  Despite all the interest, it appears Rutgers was the first to offer him, and did so on Stevenson's visit to campus for the Ohio State football game.  Stevenson is a bit of an under the radar prospect as he sat out all of last season with an injury.  He had a tremendous first season at Seward and was named a third team All-American.  He has played well at JUCO tournaments recently, which should help generate more offers with a strong start to his season.  Rutgers is showing again that they are aggressive, targeting players and offering them early on in the process.  It doesn't mean they will land Stevenson, but they are consistently showing they can evaluate talent ahead of other schools.  Seward's season started on Saturday and Stevenson scored 24 points and had 10 rebounds.  His stock should continue to rise throughout the season if he consistently puts up numbers like he did in his season opener.

Anthony Polite

Polite is a 6'5" guard from Switzerland who plays at the St. Andrew's school in Boca Raton, Florida and is in the class of 2017. According to yahoo sports, Polite has offers from Florida State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Yale, UAB, Richmond, and UCF.  This past week both Rutgers and Boston College offered the athletic junior.  Notre Dame, Stanford, Virginia and North Carolina have had contact with Polite as well. He is strong physically, moves well without the ball, plays under control and has a compact, smooth shooting stroke.  He tends to bring the ball up for his high school team and has a good handle, although he projects as a shooting guard/wing in college. Polite is yet another player that is still developing and Rutgers is all in on the Swiss national.

Strong Interest

Issa Thiam

Thiam is a 6'8" wing who is long and thin but super athletic and a class of 2016 prospect.  He plays for the Canarias Basketball Academy located in the Canary Islands, the same school that returning sophomore Shaq Doorson played for. Shoes Vetrone is leading Thiam's recruitment, who is still very much under the radar. The CBA program is loaded with talent and travels all over the US to play in tournaments. Thiam can shoot the three and is a defensive menace, although he is still very raw.  With his size, length and ability, he fits perfectly into Eddie Jordan's system. He is just another example of a player who is not well known but is oozing with potential.  Rutgers has strong interest in Thiam and his recruitment is something worth keeping an eye on.

Jax Levitch

Levitch is another wing that Rutgers is now tracking from Kentucky from the class of 2016.  He is 6'5" and is at ELEV8 prep in Florida for his 5th year, hoping to generate mid-major and high-major offers, as he only received offers from small schools out of high school. While it doesn't appear Rutgers has offered quite yet, they will keep an eye on Levitch as his recruiting process continues.

Existing Targets

Alpha Diallo

Diallo is a 6'7" consensus 4-star wing who plays for Brewster Academy, the same school as Rutgers target and 4-star power forward Taurean Thompson. ESPN ranks Diallo as the 90th best prospect in the class of 2016. He is ultra athletic, has a good handle and can slash his way to the rim.  He has a good mid-range game but still needs to develop his shooting range from deep. Rutgers offered him back in late September which we covered, but his interest continues to rise.  He recently took an official visit to VCU, who is hot on his trail and attempting to add him to an already strong class, including former Rutgers target De'Riante Jenkins.  Diallo is a player with a ton of potential and his list of high major offers will continue to grow.  I am not optimistic on Rutgers chances with Diallo, but again it's positive they are in this fight.

Sidney Wilson & Isaiah Washington

Rutgers has been on the trail for the talented class of 2017 duo from St. Raymond's since the summer. They are also top targets of St. John's and Wilson visited their inter-squad scrimmage this weekend.

Washington (blue jersey) continues to work and display his skills, as he does here recently playing head to head against another Rutgers target, Nate Pierre-Louis (white jersey).

Kwe Parker & Andre Rafus

Class of 2016 commit and blue chip guard Kwe Parker visited Rutgers for the Ohio State game, his first trip to campus since his August commitment. Now fully healthy from his foot injury last winter, Kwe should have an outstanding senior season at powerhouse Wesleyan Christian in North Carolina. UPDATE: This could be a factor in Parker's decommitment, as other high-major schools could be showing new interest.  This picture tweeted out by Shoes Vetrone's son Vinny, highlights the future of Rutgers basketball with Deshawn Freeman, Corey Sanders and Nigel Johnson, pictured along with Parker.

Also included is 4-star class of 2017 target Andre Rafus.  This is the second Rutgers football game Rafus has attended this season. He was also at the Washington State game along with fellow class of 17 target Nate Pierre-Louis and Shoes Vetrone back in September.  The Baltimore native is about to debut at Roselle Catholic this season after transferring in over the summer. The athletic wing has potential to be a great college player and seeing him pictured with future stars of the program in Sanders, Freeman, Johnson and Parker is encouraging!

Facilities Impact on recruiting

During last week's Rutgers media day for the men's basketball team, Eddie was asked about how the future facilities plan has impacted recruiting.  Eddie was honest and up front when answering the question.

Jerry Carino had a great follow up article regarding Jordan's comments here. Eddie emphasized what he could sell, which is "a terrific school, the Big Ten, a great program. We’re becoming a good team." There has been nothing new reported or updates released by the Rutgers athletic department regarding the basketball facilities plan, originally announced back in June.  When we continue to see schools like VCU open a state of the art facility and land big name recruits partially because of it, it is frustrating to see Rutgers so far behind the game.  However, Eddie Jordan is proving to be resourceful in his ability to sell the program on the positives that exist within the program and top recruits are listening.

The staff was in on big names early like Jenkins and Bashir Ahmed, but they are proving their ability to think out of the box and target less heralded players with great potential.  While progress has not been made locally, that hasn't stopped Jordan from adding more quality talent to the program than Rutgers has had in many years. With the season set to tip off in less than two weeks, Rutgers needs to make progress during the year and prove they are getting better. That factor alone could have the biggest impact on Eddie securing a top recruiting class for 2016.  With just Kwe Parker decommitting and four open scholarships remaining, the staff must continue the forward momentum they have worked so hard to develop. At the end of the day, the best recruiting tool for the staff will be winning games! As much progress as Eddie and staff have made so far, imagine the potential of future recruiting classes once the team shows it can win in the Big Ten. The season starts Friday, November 13th at home against Rutgers-Newark.