Here we are a week away from conference play beginning and Rutgers is still without a commitment for the class of 2016. With three seniors and one open scholarship, Eddie Jordan could secure four commitments for this current class. However, with a deep 2017 class, it's likely Rutgers saves a scholarship, as Deshawn Freeman is the only player set to graduate the following year.
Of course, the most immediate concern is securing top talent to join this squad for next season. With a 4-7 start to the season and seeing Kwe Parker decommit in October, it has been a tough go of it lately. Eddie and staff desperately need to land a top recruit and gain some positive momentum. With year three not going as planned, and Rutgers likely to struggle to win ten games, this is definitely the most important recruiting class of Eddie's tenure. Here are nine players that Rutgers is currently targeting for the class of 2016.
Cashing out on them in NJ pic.twitter.com/aCxPRvDnGU— Don Alex Robinson Jr (@ARob3_) December 7, 2015
Robinson is a 6'1" point guard who is a former ESPN top 100 and consensus 4-star recruit, who is transferring from Texas A&M. He visited Rutgers in the first weekend of December for the Seton Hall game. He just visited TCU this past weekend, a school that recruited him in high school as well. Robinson is sitting this season out so he would eligible to play next season. He would be a great addition to the backcourt and give Rutgers a true complement to Corey Sanders. Landing Robinson would be a real win on the recruiting trail. No word on Robinson's timeline for a decision, although you have to wonder if he wants to enroll for the spring semester to the school he commits to.
Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson has committed to TCU, per a release.— Alex Kline (@TheRecruitScoop) December 23, 2015
@VerbalCommits Niem Stevenson 6'5 guard Seward County CC received offer from Rutgers— Patrick Nee (@SewardHoops) October 27, 2015
Stevenson is a 6'4" shooting guard playing for JUCO power Seward County Community College. He is having a great season so far, picking up three conference player of the week honors. He starred two seasons ago for the Kansas school but sat last season out with a leg injury. He is more in the mold of a slasher like Bishop Daniels and less of a pure shooter. He is athletic and plays at a fast tempo. Stevenson is a bit under the radar but may pick up some additional power five offers as his breakout season continues. Greg "Shoes" Vetrone is the lead on his recruitment for Rutgers. He would be a solid pickup for Eddie and staff as he is someone who could contribute immediately next season.
#RHoops is three deep tonight for 6-8 2016 wing Issa Thiam. Assistants Shoes Vetrone & Van Macon with Vinny Vetrone in NYC for CBA scrimmage— RHoops247 (@RHoopsRecruits) November 16, 2015
Rutgers HC Eddie Jordan and assistant Shoes Vetrone are at St. Benedict's scrimmage for 2016 CBA wing Issa Thiam, per a source.— RHoops247 (@RHoopsRecruits) November 18, 2015
Canarias Academy's Rob Orellana said St.John's & Rutgers are recruiting 6'9" Issa Thiam; Fordham & Bradley are recruiting Ivan Aurecochea— Andrew Slater (@ASlater247) November 20, 2015
Senegal native Issa Thiam has looked good in both games this weekend. Smooth offensively, very good outside shooter, long. 2016. #NPS— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) November 23, 2015
Thiam is a rangy 6'8" wing from the Canarias Islands that "Shoes" has been recruiting for months. He loves shooting the deep ball despite his height. He needs to gain weight and muscle to be successful in a power 5 conference, but that is attainable. Rutgers major competition for now is St. John's and Seton Hall. Issa has major upside and a guaranteed matchup nightmare for most opposing wings. Landing Issa, especially with local rivals in the mix, would be a huge win for Rutgers.
Still learning his way around the paint but Chuba Ohams 16' F @_COhams has a ton of upside. Played very well tonight— HoopDreamsMag.com (@HoopDreamsMag) October 24, 2015
.@PSAhoops has two of the best uncommitted 2016s in Saul Phiri and Chuba Ohams. Putnam Science plays at 7 tomorrow and 3 Thursday.— BasketBullhoops (@BasketBullhoops) December 16, 2015
6-foot-8 2016 F @_COhams says he will most likely visit Rutgers after the holiday break.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) December 18, 2015
Ohams currently lists Rutgers in his top four, which includes Providence, DePaul, and South Carolina. Ohams is playing a 5th year at prep school Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut. He has continued to grow several inches in the past year and is still developing. He is an athletic player who is aggressive on the court, but still a bit raw. Ohams is gaining more attention this season playing with several division I recruits on his team, including UConn commit Mamadou Diarra. It;s obvious taking the extra year to get better and gain more attention is paying off. He definitely fits the player mold Eddie Jordan is looking for and would be a solid win for the staff.
Jaylen McManus (North Meck) Season Avg. 20 PPG 8.7 RPG 3-P FG%: 50% pic.twitter.com/srXZwQLQEg— Rick Lewis (@Coach_Rick57) December 6, 2015
Rutgers and Maryland are coming in this week on Jaylen McManus. Texas is the latest to reach out pic.twitter.com/R2fAs4kgcj— Rick Lewis (@Coach_Rick57) December 13, 2015
North Meck's Jaylen McManus will be a top scorer in __________ conference. Doesn't matter where he goes. #FACTS— TheHoopsColumn (@TheHoopsColumn) December 9, 2015
McManus is a 6'6" wing from North Carolina, a state loaded with talent in the class of 2016. Due to that fact, McManus has flown under the radar for a long time. He is breaking out in his senior season and power 5 schools are starting to take notice. He can score in multiple ways and plays with a high motor. Rutgers desperately needs a wing or two in this recruiting class, and McManus could be a real sleeper with a huge payoff in the future.
Kinston coach Perry Tyndall knows a thing or two about special players. Coach said Havelock guard Kyran Bowman is indeed that.— Jordan Honeycutt (@JHONEY_32) December 22, 2015
Bowman is another under the radar prospect from North Carolina who broke out on the AAU scene this past summer. He is super athletic and was originally committed to UNC for football, before deciding to pursue basketball instead. Bowman is very physical and known for his attacking style on offense, nicknamed "The First 48" due to his ability to dunk on opposing players. The 6'2" guard would fit nicely in the backcourt with Sanders and transfer Nigel Johnson, giving Eddie an ultra-athletic trio.
Ole Miss, Rutgers, Wichita State and others now showing interest in 6-2/G Richardson Maitre out of West Oaks Acad (FL) @DanielPaulling— zach smart (@zsmart3) November 15, 2015
Maitre was originally committed to former Rutgers coach Gary Waters and current Cleveland State head coach this year, before reopening his recruitment. He plays at the same school that Corey Sanders did and is starting to gain interest from high major schools. The Canadian native and 6'2" guard is talented but would be considered more of a project at a power 5 school.
2016 Elev8 F @LilJacky_1 told me he hopes to decide between Rutgers and Delaware by Christmas— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) November 21, 2015
Levitch plays for Elev8 Academy in Kentucky and has seen his recruitment helped by taking a 5th year at the prep school. The 6'6" shooting guard is lights out from long range, but he has a ways to go physically to be able to compete in the Big Ten. Rutgers is easily his best offer and the only power 5 school to recruit him. Don't get me wrong, Rutgers is desperate for pure shooters and Levitch has height to get his shot off from any distance. However, I don't think he would make an impact next season and would need time to develop to be successful at the next level.
Rutgers and American are the latest offers for 2016 IMG forward Aleem Ford— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) December 22, 2015
Ford is another player that took a 5th year to play at prep school. He is at IMG Academy in Florida and the wing has grown a few inches in the past year. Ford is a new target for Rutgers and they offered him yesterday. Again, he is another player with no other high major offers. He would also need time to develop physically before making an impact at the next level.
Rutgers desperately needs to land a commitment soon as the calendar turns to January. However, it's most important that Rutgers land a commitment from a player who can make an impact next season. Robinson and Stevenson are two in particular that could contribute from day one. Thiam and Ohams are very intriguing prospects that would have the opportunity to play at wing for Rutgers immediately, a huge selling point. They are both skilled scorers who would likely need some time to develop, but have high ceilings. Bowman and McManus are two athletic players from the Tar Heel state, who are seeing their stock rise and would be nice additions. Levitch may be a sharpshooter, something the program desperately needs, but I question how long it will take him to be physically ready to play in the Big Ten. As for Ford and Maitre, they could continue to improve, but for now are a stretch to make an impact in a power 5 conference.
There are no slam dunk recruits currently being targeted, because those type of recruits simply aren't interested right now. Losing Kwe Parker and starting the season at 4-7 have definitely set back the program on the recruiting front. Eddie and staff are in hot pursuit of several local 4-star recruits in the class of 2017, like Andre Rafus, Sidney Wilson and Isaiah Washington. However, Rutgers is not in on any top local recruits for the class of 2016 and are scouring the east coast to find players. Robinson and Stevenson are two guards not from the east coast, who would be ready to contribute right away, as they are older and more experienced.
The problem is Rutgers is desperately thin at the wing and in the frontcourt. Greg Lewis is set to graduate, leaving just Deshawn Freeman and D.J. Foreman as regular big men returning. Ibrahima Diallo has shown potential in his freshman season, but had a major setback breaking his foot last week. Shaq Doorson has sat out all season with a leg injury. Major question marks remain and there no current center or power forward targets to my knowledge. Perhaps the staff is moving in on somebody right now, but a player the caliber of Taurean Thompson is no longer realistic.
For Eddie and staff to turn the program around, they need talented players. A best case scenario for now is landing some combination of Robinson, Stevenson, Thiam, Ohams, Bowman and McManus. That group would have the makings of a solid recruiting class. While four scholarships are open for this class, it's likely Rutgers will hold one over based on next year's class, unless they could land four of the six just mentioned. Of course, it doesn't really matter right now, because Eddie is still searching for his first commitment for the class of 2016. Credit the staff for being resourceful and targeting under the radar or rising prospects. Now it's time to land some commitments from players that can make an impact on this program, next year and in the future.