After 4-star guard Kwe Parker committed to Rutgers and Eddie Jordan in late August, there was real hope the momentum would lead to multiple 4-star player commitments in the following months. De'Riante Jenkins and Bashir Ahmed are two elite wing players who scheduled official visits to Rutgers for September. Taurean Thompson took another unofficial visit recently, putting Rutgers in play for the 4-star power forward. Just as hope was building that the staff could haul in a blockbuster class with these three, reality set in. Here are updates on where Rutgers stands with the recruiting class of 2016, both with their top targets and new targets they are tracking.
Rutgers HC Eddie Jordan and assts Van Macon and Shoes Vetrone will see 2016 pledge Kwe Parker @iJump_tooMuch & DeRiante Jenkins tomorrow— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 9, 2015
Eddie Jordan and staff made a serious effort to show De'Riante Jenkins how serious they were in wanting him at Rutgers, visiting him on September 10th. De'Riante had an official visit scheduled for Homecoming weekend starting this Friday. The stage was set for Jenkins to reunite with old teammate Corey Sanders. And then....
BREAKING: 2016 wing De'Riante Jenkins (Hargrave Military Academy) has committed to VCU, source told @CBSSports. Top-60 player in class.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 19, 2015
Jenkins surprised many by committing to VCU on Saturday. He had taken an official visit to VCU at the beginning of this month and had just taken an official visit to Tennessee the second weekend of September. He was also scheduled to visit Clemson the week after Rutgers. Unfortunately, one of the top wings in the class of 2016 is off the board. Credit Eddie and staff for being in the fight, but it wasn't enough to land the dynamic wing.
JUCO wing Bashir Ahmed (Hutchinson CC) will visit Rutgers on 9/12, source told @CBSSports. St. John's, Cincinnati, & Louisville in mix.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 3, 2015
Another top wing, JUCO all-american Bashir Ahmed, was set to visit Rutgers for a second time, and for an official this time, the weekend of September 12th. Earlier that week, Rick Pitino and Louisville swooped in and visited Ahmed. Once Louisville and Lord Pitino showed serious interest, Ahmed cancelled his trip to Rutgers. Ahmed is planning to visit Louisville after taking official visits to Cincinnati last weekend and St. John's this weekend. From the above article from Adam Zagoria,"With Rutgers, they’re still recruiting me right now but I just want to wait," Ahmed told SNY.tv Sunday by phone. "I like Rutgers and everything but I had a lot of schoolwork this week. I just wanted to wait until later on….I’m not visiting Rutgers right now." Ahmed hasn't completely ruled Rutgers out yet, but it's not encouraging news for Eddie and staff. Although Cincinnati and St. John's have been in on Ahmed for a long time as well, Louisville would appear the sudden favorite.
Taurean Thompson tentatively set for an official to Syracuse 9/25-26, @BrewsterHoops confirms.Has visited Rutgers/Maryland/Xavier/Seton Hall— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 9, 2015
There isn't a lot to update regarding Thompson, other than he is definitely the top player left on Rutgers recruiting board for the 2016 class. Maryland and Syracuse are heavily involved now, so it will be an uphill battle to land Thompson. It should also be of note that Thompson is the only New Jersey native that Rutgers is currently targeting for this class. Perhaps playing his senior season away from home at prep school Brewster Academy will make Thompson want to play college ball closer to his family. We can only hope!
Providence Day PF Grant WIlliams, 2014-15 Charlotte Observer player of the year, offered by Rutgers tonight pic.twitter.com/qF71CI9l4Y— Langston Wertz Jr. (@langstonwertzjr) September 17, 2015
Williams is a teammate De'Riante Jenkins and was just offered by Rutgers last Thursday. The staff watched him play when they were visiting Jenkins last week. Williams is a 6'7" 3-star forward and currently holds offers from Charlotte, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Boston College, Harvard, and Yale with interest from Vanderbilt. He is an undersized low post threat in the mold of RU great Rashod Kent. While not a superstar, Williams is a banger down low who can do the little things to help a team win. He has a quick first step, has a good handle, plays under control, has a high vertical leap and is a hard nosed defender. With good coaching and hard work on developing his body physically, Williams is someone that could steadily improve over time and be a key contributor at the college level.
Ohams is a 6'7" 3-star wing player from New York City who plays at Putnam Science Academy. He is a player who had a huge July on the AAU circuit during the summer live recruiting period. Rutgers visited him two weeks ago and I would expect them to offer him soon. Now that Jenkins is off the board and Ahmed is likely as well, Eddie and staff must make their next wing targets on the board a high priority. It is a major position of need, as the only true wing on Rutgers roster is freshman Jonathan Laurent. Ohams currently has offers from VCU, Providence, DePaul, Rhode Island, Iona, and UMASS. In addition to Rutgers, he is now starting to garner interest from more high profile schools like UCONN, Indiana, Miami (Fla), USC and Virginia. Ohams has a high arcing shot from long range and has great body control in the air. He can score with his jump shot from deep or he can drive to the basket and finish off the glass. He needs to gain muscle to be effective in the paint at the next level. The recruitment of Ohams and Rutgers involvement with him will be something worth keeping an eye on. He is not as developed as Jenkins, but over time could become a big time scorer.
Smith is a another wing player Rutgers is tracking and they visited with him last Friday. He is a JUCO player in Tennessee and currently holds offers from Iona, Albany, and Miami (OH). Memphis and Rutgers seem to be next in line in evaluating his game. I don't know much about Smith but he did play in the prestigious Top 100 camp for JUCO players in the July. It doesn't appear they have offered yet, but expect them to continue to evaluate him this fall.
Assessment of 2016 class prospects
The quest to fill the remaining three available scholarships for the class of 2016 is the top priority for the next few weeks. With practice opening in early October, Eddie, Shoes Vetrone, Van Macon and Dalip Bhatia will do their best to make up ground on their top targets before the new season starts. Losing Jenkins and most likely Ahmed is tough, but jumping in on players like Grant Williams and Chuba Ohams now before the season starts is key. Taurean Thompson is someone that will most likely let the recruiting process play out through the season. Rutgers will stay on him as much as possible in hopes momentum swings their way once Thompson is close to a decision.
Although the signing period for the 2016 class opens in November, filling this class will go well into 2016. Remember, Rutgers didn't sign Deshawn Freeman and Jonathan Laurent until this past spring. With Kwe Parker committed, Eddie and staff have proven they can land a top prospect and are willing to scour the country to find the right players for their program. Hopefully they can build some momentum during this season, showing progress and getting the right players to buy in. Stay tuned...