Today is was reported that incoming Freshman Kejuan Johnson was granted his release from his commitment to Rutgers. This is the second player to leave the roster in the past two weeks as Ryan Johnson left on May 22nd. The same day it was reported Omari Ray Grier, a graduate transfer from Bradley, was on his way to Rutgers.
The move today was alluded to by Jerry Carino:
My understanding is there MIGHT be one more roster shuffle ahead for Rutgers involving a 2015 commit. We'll see.— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) May 22, 2015
We know today that MIGHT, turned out to be true. For now the current roster is at twelve scholarship players, but that includes Nigel Johnson, a transfer from Kansas State who must sit out the upcoming season. So we currently have eleven scholarship players for next season, two less than the maximum allowed for Division I programs. Obviously, this isn't an ideal position to be in as the calendar reads June. Unfortunately, this is familiar territory for Eddie Jordan, as he has been short of scholarship players since he took the job two seasons ago. To compete in the rough and tumble Big Ten, playing shorthanded is a legitimate disadvantage. Depth has been an issue and there is some thought that two transfers in two weeks is a major concern about the state of Eddie's recruiting. I disagree and think that while the depth is less than desirable, the talent level is the highest in some time. It's time to review the current roster and assess the options for the last open roster spot for the upcoming season.
Center: Greg Lewis, Shaq Doorson
Lewis is the only player left from the Mike Rice era. He averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds on 23.8 minutes a game last season. He will provide a steady presence in the middle and will need to be a leader of this team. We can hope he has a breakout senior season.
Doorson showed flashes during his freshman campaign and has potential to play big minutes this season. He has the size and strength to match up against the front lines of the Big Ten on a consistent basis. Let's hope coach Mike O'Koren can make serious progress with the Dutchman leading into the season.
Forwards: DeShawn Freeman, D.J. Foreman, Ibrahima Diallo
DeShawn Freeman, the Junior College All-American, has the potential to be a star at Rutgers. He has the ability to play the 3 or the 4, a versatile threat that Eddie Jordan loves to have at his disposal. Starring at JUCO powerhouse Hutchinson CC in Kansas, Freeman should make an immediate impact next season. How much of one will be a major factor in how Rutgers season plays out.
DJ Foreman averaged 15 minutes a games last season and like Doorson, showed promise at times. His development will be another key factor for the front line and their ability to score in the paint. He will see increased minutes and plenty of opportunity this season to be a significant piece to the puzzle.
Diallo is unproven, but has the potential to be a real beast in the paint. At 6'10" he runs the floor well and is very athletic. He should be an exciting player to watch and could be a key finisher on fast breaks led by Corey Sanders.
Wings: Jonathan Laurent
The lone wing on the team, Laurent was a late commit. The 3-star recruit from Florida signed on in April and has a big opportunity to play right away. While the loss of Kejuan Johnson hurts depth for this team, Laurent is talented, and was probably ahead of him going into the season.
Guards: Corey Sanders, Bishop Daniels, Mike Williams, Omari Grier, Justin Goode
Sanders is the star of the class and the highest rated recruit since Mike Rosario came to the banks in 2008. My hopes for him are sky high, and he is the key to the season. If he can buy in to Eddie's system from day one, Sanders could be headed to a stellar freshman campaign.
Bishop Daniels and Mike Williams return after solid, yet unspectacular, debuts last season. Daniels averaged over 8 points a game, 2 boards and 2 assists in about 25 minutes a game. His ability to raise his production with increased minutes will be essential in improving the team's scoring potential. I like Williams a lot and hope he makes strides this season. He only shot 32% from the field and 24% from three, so improving his shot accuracy is a must. His workmanlike demeanor will be a positive influence on this team.
Omari Grier comes ready to play and hopes to become a consistent long range threat. Rutgers shot 29.5% from 3-point range last season. Grier is a career 34% shooter from deep, so his ability and experience make him a great late find for Jordan and staff.
Justin Goode is another 3-star recruit that has long term potential but may find it tough to break in the rotation this season.
Overall depth is a concern as the likelihood of signing someone for the incoming 2015 class at this point is difficult. While losing Johnson today probably wasn't a major surprise for the coaching staff, based on Carino's tweet above, replacing him is another matter. A JUCO player or graduate transfer are the best options at this point, however slim. While losing both Johnsons, Kejuan and Ryan, is unfortunate, there is a lot of talent and athleticism on this team. At a minimum they should be entertaining as Eddie finally has a roster that's his and players that fit his style. This team is truly unpredictable as there are six newcomers and only five players with experience returning from last season.
Perhaps there will be a late addition, but at this point it might pay off in the long run to have an extra scholarship for the 2016 class. With Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson on board, Eddie and staff are in the mix on several big names including Freeman's teammate Bashir Ahmed. With solid progress next season its possible Jordan builds some momentum on the recruiting trail and lands a program changing class. With Corey Sanders and DeShawn Freeman leading this freshman class, let's hope he has already found them.