It’s happening everyone. Steve Pikiell and the coaching staff have been pounding the recruiting trail since their arrival last Spring and today they landed a big time prospect.
Mamadou Doucoure is a 6’9” power forward who plays high school ball with Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York. He also plays AAU ball on the EYBL circuit with the PSA Cardinals, a prominent program that head coach Steve Pikiell has been working to build a strong relationship with since he took the job. He is rated a 4-star recruit by Rivals, ESPN, and 247 Sports, as well as 3-stars by Scout and Future 150.
He is a member of the class of 2018 and was considered a St. John’s lean for the past few months. He was also offered by Pitt and Rutgers assistant Brandin Knight played a role in swaying Doucoure the Scarlet Knights way. SNY’s Adam Zagoria spoke with Doucoure’s high school coach Eric Jaklitsch about the job Knight did in recruiting him:
“I have been doing this for 15-plus years and there has never been a better recruiting job than what Rutgers and coach [Brandin] Knight did with Duke. The kid is on Cloud Nine right now. He is so happy. And coach Knight deserves credit for that. He developed the trust. The kid believes Rutgers is a perfect home.”
According to 247 Sports, Doucoure also held offers from Seton Hall and UConn, with Maryland showing interest.
Doucoure has a big frame and is listed at 220 pounds. He is very athletic and a strong rebounder, as well as an imposing rim defender. Playing hard and being proficient at blocking shots are strengths for Doucoure and he also runs the floor well for a big man. He can finish in the paint with authority, but needs refinement working within an offense system. That can be taught. Athleticism, size and effort cannot.
He played in the Philly v. NYC All-City Classic in September and had an impressive showing. Here is what the site City of Basketball Love had to say about his performance:
A powerful, 6-9 forward, Doucouré proved to be an imposing force in the middle for the New York juniors. He was relentless on the glass, battling for second-and-third-chance opportunities against multiple opponents, securing whatever he could and keeping the rest alive for his teammates. A high-level defender and rebounder, he also showed off a well-developed offensive game, putting the ball on the floor and displaying a high-arcing hook shot that he could get off over any defender. With his muscular, athletic frame and his non-stop motor, it’s no surprise that high-major schools are all over Doucouré, one of many talented big men who plays with the PSA Cardinals’ EYBL program.
There is no overstating how huge of a commitment Doucoure is for Rutgers and the coaching staff. In less than nine months, Steve Pikiell has the team off to its best start since the Final Four season 41 years ago with an 11-1 record. He has now landed the program’s first 4-star recruit since Corey Sanders committed in the class of 2015. To secure Doucoure’s pledge a few days ahead of the Garden State Showcase against Seton Hall makes it even sweeter. It’s a major statement and proof that Pikiell is convincing highly rated recruits that Rutgers is moving in the right direction. This is key ahead of a major opportunity with a loaded 2018 recruiting class locally and Rutgers expected to have a minimum of four scholarships available.
As for the class of 2017, combo guard Geo Baker committed back in the summer after the July live recruiting period. One open scholarship remains. Landing the 4-star Doucoure will only help in luring another quality player to Rutgers in the current recruiting cycle. Knowing the way Pikiell operates, it’s likely he has communicated effectively to recruits that turning the program around is a process and results in conference play will take time. Now that Doucoure is in hand, it gives other recruits even more reason to believe in the positive changes happening within the program.
With an 11-1 start to the season, Pikiell has proven early on he can coach and make the most of a flawed roster. Now that he has landed Doucoure, he is also quickly proving to be up to the challenge of recruiting at this level, which is essential to his success at Rutgers. Better days are most certainly ahead for this program with Steve Pikiell as head coach!
Welcome to the banks, Mamadou!