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Rutgers Basketball Recruiting: The current state of Big Ten rankings

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The Scarlet Knights are battling for recruits in the Big Ten and beyond
The Scarlet Knights are battling for recruits in the Big Ten and beyond
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, 3-star recruit Kejuan Johnson was reportedly released from his commitment due to academic reasons.  While this hurts Rutgers depth, I don't think its a major loss for the upcoming season.  However, it made me wonder how the loss of Johnson would effect the current recruiting rankings for the incoming class of 2015.  The most complete rankings out there are from 247sports.com and are below, including stars for each commit (updated on 6/5/15):

  1. Ohio State (five 4-star)
  2. Illinois (three 4-star and one 3-star)
  3. Michigan State (two 4-star and on 3-star)
  4. Indiana (one 5-star, one 4-star, one 3-star, one not ranked)
  5. Nebraska (two 4-star and two 3-star)
  6. Purdue (one 5-star and two 3-stars)
  7. Maryland (one 5-star and one 3-star)
  8. TTFP (two 4-stars and one 3-star)
  9. Rutgers (one 4-star and three 3-star)
  10. Wisconsin (one 4-star, three 3-star and one not ranked)
  11. Minnesota (one 4-star and four 3-star)
  12. Northwestern (one 4-star and two 3-star)
  13. Iowa (four 3-star, one  2-star and one not ranked)
  14. Michigan (one 4-star)
  • Rutgers did not drop in the rankings and are currently ranked 46th nationally.  Wisconsin is ranked right behind Rutgers at 47th.  Both schools have one 4-star in Corey Sanders for Rutgers and Brevin Pritzl for Wisconsin.  Each have a high 3-star recruit with DeShawn Freeman headed to New Brunswick and Alex Illikainen headed to Madison. Where Rutgers has the slight edge is overall average score per recruit.  The Badgers 5th commit, Andy Van Vliet from British Columbia, is unranked.  Perhaps he was under recruited being from Canada as he only had offers from Oregon State, St. Mary's, Washington State and Wisconsin.  These rankings are by no means perfect but any time Rutgers can edge Bo Ryan and Wisconsin, let's enjoy it.
  • One point that is concerning is Nebraska and TTFP are ranked ahead of Rutgers.  Both schools have two 4-star commits while Rutgers has one. If Rutgers is going to climb the standings in the Big Ten in the years to come, out recruiting these two schools is essential.  It's hard enough competing against the traditional powers of the Big Ten.  If these two traditional cellar dwellers continue to rise, Eddie Jordan has even more work cut out for him.  And for 2016, TTFP already has two 3-stars committed and Nebraska has one 3-star.  Rutgers is still working on their first commitment.
  • Not one NJ recruit from the Class of 2015 committed to a Big Ten school.  Eddie Jordan's dream of #1 recruit Isaiah Briscoe from Roselle Catholic coming to Rutgers ended when he chose the bluegrass of Kentucky.  The next two top recruits, Malachi Richardson of Trenton Catholic and Moustapha Diagne from Pope John, left the garden state for the chilly winters and chillier dispostion of Jim Boeheim and Syracuse.  Marcus McDuffie from St. Anthony's went to Wichita State and Elijah Burns from Blair Academy went to Notre Dame.  It's not as crucial in basketball as it is in football to dominate recruiting in your home state.  However, New Jersey is traditionally strong in high school talent and for Rutgers to be able to compete long term with the best of the Big Ten, Eddie needs to start securing a top NJ recruit annually. Taurean Thompson from St. Anthony's would be a great start in 2016.
  • Michigan is ranked last and only has one recruit for the 2015 class with 4-star Moritz Wagner, who just committed last week.  However they are loaded with rising sophomores and juniors with the only loss being Max Biefeldt.  He is a career backup who is a graduate transfer headed to conference rival Indiana.  They are off to a great start for 2016 as they secured 5-star recruit and the #1 ranked player in NJ, Tyus Battle from Gil St. Bernard.  They also have commitments from two centers, 4-star Jon Teske from Ohio and 3-star Austin Davis from Michigan. 
  • Purdue landed a huge late steal in 5-star center Caleb Swanigan in late May.  Swanigan originally committed to Tom Izzo and Michigan State in April only to flip a month later.  Huge pick up for coach Matt Painter who only had two 3-star recruits before this commitment. Their class is ranked 36th in the nation.
  • Heading into a make or break season for Illinois head coach John Groce, he landed three 4-star recruits including in-state guard Aaron Jordan and in-state forward DJ Williams.  How much they can contribute right away will help determine if the Illini can take a step forward this season.
  • Ohio State landed the top ranked recruiting class in the conference two years in a row, securing commitments from a 4-star recruit at every position except for power forward.  Obviously the loss of 1st team All-American D'Angelo Russell after only one season leaves a major void, but Thad Matta has a stocked roster with a deep and talented group.  They could be even better this season.
  • For the class of 2014, Rutgers was also ranked 9th in the conference but did not fair as well nationally at 63rd.  I've said it before but landing 4-star Corey Sanders is the key to the class and he is the reason RU is currently ranked 46th.  While the staff is trying to secure one more commitment for this current class after Kejuan Johnson was released, time is against them.  The best bet is a graduate transfer which would not figure into recruiting rankings but help depth for next season.  It would also keep an open scholarship for the class of 2016.  Securing Omari Ray Grier last month, a graduate transfer from Bradley, was a much needed boost of outside shooting and experience for this team next season.

Eddie and staff are hard at work for the 2016 class and it was reported that 4-star point guard Kwe Parker is scheduled to visit campus next weekend.

Parker is a Wake Forest lean and has previously said he would make a decision in July.  Getting him on campus now is a great opportunity for Eddie to possibly steal him late in the game.  In addition, last Sunday JC rising star Bashir Ahmed visited and Rutgers has a solid chance at landing him.

3-star PG and the 8th ranked recruit in New York state,  Rashond Salnave from Cardozo HS, has Rutgers high on his list as well.  Being able to land top recruits in New York City is just as important as keeping New Jersey stars home. It's not just Big Ten opponents Rutgers needs to worry about on the recruiting trail.

Eddie Jordan will be going head to head with new St. John's coach Chris Mullin for every top local recruit moving forward.  Jordan already lost out on 3-star guard Malik Ellison with this class and are battling for Ahmed for 2016. Mullin just started in late March but landed the 41st nationally ranked class for 2015 with two 4-star recruits, Chicago point guard Marcus LoVett and JUCO power forward Darien Williams. St. John's is hosting multiple top local players this weekend.  Mullin has made it clear he plans to dominate New York and New Jersey in recruiting for years to come.  The 2016 class will be crucial for Eddie Jordan and staff to prove they can win recruiting battles with St. John's and Mullin.  It will be fascinating to see how this plays out now and in the future.  Stay tuned!