The coaching search for the next men's basketball coach is fully underway. The search firm of Eastman & Beaudine was hired. There is much speculation that athletic director Pat Hobbs' first call is Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley. While we wait for Hobbs to hire a new coach, the status of the current roster is certainly in limbo. Although we won't know the final answer until the coaching hire has been made, we can also ponder which players on the current roster will be transferring. It is only natural for players to leave after their coach is fired. While it is inevitable that players may end up leaving, the cornerstone of the program is Corey Sanders.
The only former 4-star recruit on the roster and best player by far this season, Sanders is a legitimate building block for the next coach who takes over the program. The question is, will Sanders stay at Rutgers now that Eddie Jordan has been fired? There is no way to know for sure, but he was asked about it Wednesday night after the loss to Nebraska.
Freshman guard Corey Sanders on his future at Rutgers: "This is my team. Whatever happens, I'm going to be here."— Brian Fonseca (@briannnnf) March 10, 2016
Certainly encouraging words from the star freshman and music to every Rutgers fan's ears. The dynamic point guard, who was snubbed by the coaches who voted for the Big Ten all-freshman team, finished in the top ten in scoring, assists, and steals for the conference this season. He has all the tools and has the potential to be the leader on and off the court for the next coach of the program. So why should there be any concern, especially after Sanders strong comments this week?
Strong words, but collegians almost always swear allegiance right after the finale. Understandable. Time will tell. https://t.co/M2UgkRanf7— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) March 10, 2016
Carino's tweet highlights the fact that emotions run high for players immediately after a game, especially after a season ending loss. The question is will that conviction stay with Sanders in the next month or two? Do his family and friends support him wanting to stay at Rutgers, or will he feel the pull of those close to him to explore other opportunities. There is no doubt many power five programs would be interested in his services. Sanders always spoke highly of Eddie, even when he was benched for two games in January. He is also close to assistant coach Greg "Shoes" Vetrone, whose status with the program is unknown.
An interesting facet to the coaching search is how long it will take Hobbs to hire Jordan's replacement. Will Sanders wait patiently and stay committed to the program? Will he be open minded to the new coach, no matter who is hired? Can Hobbs ease his mind and stay in his ear, blocking out any distractions and temptations to leave Rutgers? There is no doubt that Hobbs must get this decision right, for the long term benefit of the program. Of course, the sooner the hire is made, the sooner the new coach can get Sanders to buy into his vision for the team.
However, as valuable as Sanders is to Rutgers, no one player is worth sacrificing the long term future of the program. Sanders has had his ups and downs, as to be expected for a freshman, and please remember, this is an 18 year old kid we are talking about. His emotions are surely running high and whatever decision he makes, we should all respect it and wish him well either way. It's likely he wasn't expecting his first college season to be so filled with the trials and tribulations that he has experienced. He has said all the right things this season and while his two week suspension for a violation of team rules was a setback, he otherwise has appeared to be a good teammate. As bad as Rutgers was, the country did take notice of how good of a player Corey is, and how great he can become.
. @C_Sanders3 You have something special in you. You have a chance to be great. It's time to go to work.— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) March 10, 2016
As Hobbs is hard at work at finding the next coach, we all hope he finds the right coach to lead the program forward. Let's hope Sanders is patient and keeps an open mind to the possibilities at Rutgers with a new coach. If Sanders stays and continues to develop, helping lead the new regime out of the current doldrums and the program back to respectability, he would leave Rutgers as one of the school's all-time greats. Hopefully, Sanders truly is committed to Rutgers and follows the likes of Myles Mack, and not the path of a Mike Rosario, Todd Billet, and Dahntay Jones. For now all we can do is wait and hope!