The Rutgers men’s basketball program had a very busy few days last weekend. First, they celebrated MidKnight Madness along with the women’s team, which was a great fan event to kick off the season. They also entered their second full week of preseason practice. On top of that, it was a major recruiting weekend for head coach Steve Pikiell and the coaching staff, as they hosted upwards of 50 recruits between MidKnight Madness and the Rutgers-Michigan football game. They invited many local players in future classes, as well as hosted two official visits from the class of 2017. Let’s take a look at who visited and what it all means.
Last month, I addressed where Rutgers would focus their attention within the class of 2017, now that Jose Alvarado committed to Georgia Tech. All signs pointed to Senegalese forward Mahktar Gueye as being a top target, so it was encouraging that he took an official visit to Rutgers this past weekend. According to 247 sports, the 3-star recruit has also taken an official visit to Old Dominion and has been visited by the Monarchs, Louisville, UTEP, Grand Canyon, and UAB since the beginning of September. He also picked up a recent offer from St. Bonaventure.
Gueye did make a decision to narrow his list to a top six, which he announced last week before his Rutgers visit.
2017 forward Makhtar Gueye narrows his list to six schools | https://t.co/BC64dNxnNH pic.twitter.com/O5HaD5XKy6— Phenom Hoop Report (@Phenom_Hoops) October 7, 2016
In talking with Julius Kim of the Phenom Hoop Report, Gueye had this to say about Rutgers ahead of his visit to campus.
“I really like Rutgers because they have been committed to me,” he said. “They visit me and they show that they want me to be apart of their program. I have a great relationship with the coaches and I can’t wait to visit them.”
Coach Pikiell had visited Gueye at his new school, the Aspire Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, back on September 13th. They are pursuing him in full and looking to add Gueye along with 2017 commit Geo Baker, who took his official visit to Rutgers this weekend as well. That was smart planning, as Baker has been a great recruiter in his own right since committing to the program back in late July. He was surely in Gueye’s ear about joining him on the banks. It seems Rutgers is battling UAB and DePaul the most for his services at the moment. With the early signing period beginning November 7th, it’s possible Gueye makes a decision in the next month. His potential and athleticism make him a intriguing prospect with major upside. It would also be huge for the staff to land him and lock up two solid recruits for the class of 2017 before their own season starts. Stay tuned!
Recruits Who Attended MidKnight Madness
List per Jerry Carino of Asbury Park Press
Paul Mulcahy, Gill St. Bernard’s
The class of 2019 combo guard recently received an offer from Virginia Tech and received a visit from Villanova, per 247 Sports. It’s good to see Rutgers getting involved.
Mamadou Doucoure, Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
The 4-star center from the class of 2018 is considered a St. John’s lean. However, great job by Rutgers getting him on campus for a visit. There is still plenty of time left in his recruitment.
Hassan Drame & Fousseyni Drame, Our Savior New American
The twin brothers also play for the NY Rens of the EYBL circuit and were selected by Mali to play on their national team this past summer at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
Jefferson Koulibaly, Our Savior New American - 2021 recruit
Bourama Sidibe & Noah Farrakhan, St. Benedict’s
Rutgers hosted most of the St. Benedicts team, including Sidibe and Farrakhan, back in September for the Rutgers-Iowa football game. To read more on Rutgers interest in these two players and highlights of them on the court, click here.
Ibn Loyal, St. Benedicts
The 6’4” wing previously played at Hudson Catholic and will play his first season at St. Ben’s this year. He apparently plans to reclassify to the class of 2018 and transfer for a post-graduate year at a prep school after this coming season.
Jayden Saddler, St. Benedict’s
According to Verbal Commits, the 5’9” point guard from the class of 2017 holds offers from Nicholls State, Rider, Drexel, and UNC-Greensboro. Perhaps Rutgers is looking at him as a walk-on candidate.
Matt Cotton, St. Benedict’s
Jeff Adkins, St. Benedict’s
Recruits Who Visited The Rutgers-Michigan Football Game
List per Jerry Carino of Asbury Park Press
Geo Baker, Proctor Academy (Ma.) (Class of 2017 Commit)
Makhtar Gueye, Aspire Basketball Academy (Az.) (Class of 2017 Top Target)
If Rutgers were able to land Gueye to add with Baker, it would give them a solid duo who can develop within the program and become a solid base to build on recruiting wise.
Sports U “Fab Five”
Naz Reid, Roselle Catholic
Louis King, Hudson Catholic
Jahvon Quinerly, Hudson Catholic
Atiba Taylor, Hackensack
Luther Muhammad, Hudson Catholic
Rutgers had tracked the Sports U team non-stop during the July live recruiting period and it has led to multiple visits from this ultra-talented group. This was 5-star center Naz Reid’s second visit to Rutgers since August and 5-star forward Louis King’s third visit. I understand the skepticism in the chances Rutgers has in landing any of these five players. However, the fact is we haven’t had a coaching staff this relentless in getting top talent on campus, let alone multiple times, like Pikiell and his assistant’s have in only a few months. It’s great Rutgers was able to get the entire group together for this visit and hopefully we see them at the RAC a few times for games this season. To read on past visits and more info on each of these players, all of whom are top recruits in the class of 2018, click here, here, here, here, and here.
Jalen Carey, Immaculate Conception
The 4-star guard also was back on campus for a second time, having visited back in early September. He took unofficial visits to Seton Hall and UConn since, and has received recent visits from Notre Dame and Virginia, according to 247 Sports. Great to see Rutgers in the mix.
Justin Winston, Immaculate Conception
Winston visited the program in early September with Carey and was back again this weekend. The 3-star forward is teammates with Carey and is also in the class of 2018.
Khalif Battle, Roselle Catholic
Rutgers hosted the class of 2019 guard back in early August, when they offered him during his visit. The brother of top class of 2016 recruit Tyus, who is attending Syracuse, will play his sophomore season at Roselle Catholic after transferring from St. Joseph’s of Metuchen. He is a big recruit for Rutgers to stay on in the next couple of years.
Khalil Whitney, Roselle Catholic
Rutgers offered the class of 2019 guard who recently transferred to Roselle Catholic from Chicago. His father, Kelly, starred at Seton Hall in the mid-2000’s.
Omar Cooper & Sharife Cooper, McEachern (Ga.)
The Twin brothers father, also Omar, played basketball at New Jersey City University and have a sister, Te’a, who plays at Tennessee. Her godfather, according to this USA Basketball profile, is Brandin Knight, currently an assistant coach under Pikiell. The twins are class of 2020.
Babatunde Akingbola, McEachern (Ga.)
The 3-star forward from the class of 2019 has received visits from Georgia Tech, Kansas, and Rutgers since September, according to 247 Sports. It’s great Pikiell was able to get him to visit along with his teammates, the Cooper twins.
Myles McCoy, Roselle Catholic - Class of 2017 guard
Devin Gordon, McEachern (Ga.) - Class of 2019 guard
Tworn Seals, McEachern (Ga.) - Class of 2019 forward
Daniel Dade, Pope Francis (Ma.) - class of 2019 guard
Mamadou Doucare, Hassan Drame, Fousseyni Drame, and Jefferson Koulibaly from Our Savior New American also attended the Michigan game, the day after attending MidKnight Madness.
Overall, this is an extremely impressive group of recruits to have on campus this past weekend. Pikiell and his staff continue to recruit in a manner that I’ve never seen at Rutgers. It’s essential to their success that they build strong ties locally in recruiting. We also learned yesterday that the staff hosted at least a couple of high school coaches at practice on Monday.
Would like to thank @CoachPikiell and staff for allowing me to watch Rutgers basketball practice today. #@RutgersMBB— Spencer Mayfield (@CoachMayfield_) October 10, 2016
Got to see my man @CoachMurphHoops at Rutgers basketball practice today. Dedicated student of the game. #LifelongLerner— Spencer Mayfield (@CoachMayfield_) October 10, 2016
Spencer Mayfield is the head coach at White Plains high school in New York and Dan Murphy is an assistant coach at St. Anthony’s under legend Bob Hurley. While there isn’t a public open door policy to high school coaches like Rutgers football coach Chris Ash, it’s obvious Pikiell is working more behind the scenes in getting high school coaches to practices. It’s a great move and the program is receiving more exposure and is now more transparent than it’s been in a very long time. This is long overdue.
It’s easy to get a local recruit to campus once, as it’s close by and a quick visit. However, Rutgers is starting to gain some serious momentum in building relationships with the New Jersey & New York basketball communities. It can’t be overstated how important this is for the future success of the program. Pikiell has made major in-roads in just six months, which is nothing short of phenomenal. There is no doubt the hard part is about to begin, as hope needs to translate on the court this season. There are lots of questions for this team to answer, but if they can show improvement and demonstrate progress is being made, the foundation built on the recruiting trail the past few months will only grow stronger.
Exactly one month today, the Rutgers men’s basketball program will tip off the 2016-2017 season at home against Molloy. The Big Ten Media Day is Thursday and we will have full coverage here, starting with a preview of what to watch for tomorrow.