Roselle Catholic senior Matt Bullock, who committed to Rutgers this past Saturday, was named first team all-state yesterday. He led his school to a 22-8 record and final #2 ranking in the non-public boys basketball rankings this season. Bullock was also named Union County Conference Player of the Year as well. Bullock averaged 11.4 points a game on a team that includes national recruits with class of 2017 wing Andre Rafus and class of 2018 power forward Naz Reid. Bullock is known for playing his best in big games. Here are some highlights from this season:
The senior had 26 points and 11 rebounds against Linden after the Lions had previously lost to the Tigers. He had 16 points and five rebounds against national powerhouse Montverde (Fla.). He had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Huntington Prep (W.V.). Then he had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the Union County Tournament final, including a jumper to send the game to overtime and a dunk to send it to double overtime though Patrick School would win the game.
Bullock helped lead Roselle Catholic to their fourth consecutive Non-Public B title this season. In addition, Bullock finished his high school career with two tournament of champion titles, which is the crown for the state champion from all groups within New Jersey. At 6'4" and 220 lbs, Bullock was a beast on the court and rebounded as well as any guard in the state. His ability to drain the three makes him a versatile threat, although he is considered a "tweener" without a natural position at the next level.
Joining Bullock on the all-state first team is Syracuse commit Tyus Battle from St. Joseph's of Metuchen, Notre Dame commit T.J. Gibbs of Seton Hall Prep, Georgetown commit Jagan Mosely of St. Anthony's, and American University commit Sa'eed Nelson of St. Augustine's Prep. All five players were senior guards for their respective schools. The second team included Harvard commit Bryce Aiken of The Patrick School.
It is quite a list of schools and highlights a problem that has plagued Rutgers for some time. Bullock is such an important recruit for new Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, as he is the first New Jersey player to sign with the state university since Myles Mack did so in 2011. None of the players named to the first team all-state ever considered Rutgers seriously, other than Bullock, who practically begged former Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan to make him a priority. From this article by Jeremy Schneider back in February:
Rutgers is Bullock's biggest offer in terms of conference, though he says the program hasn't gotten in touch with him in a while. But the prospect of playing in his home state definitely appeals to him, and the Scarlet Knights would be a favorite for his commitment if they got back in the picture.
"It would mean a lot," Bullock said. "I already have three state championships. I could go to Rutgers where I could impact New Jersey even more."
Thankfully, Pikiell made Bullock a priority soon after taking over at Rutgers and hosted the player last Friday. Pikiell already turned a previous under recruited player from Roselle Catholic into a star, Jameel Warney, who was named the America East Conference Player of the Year this season. Roselle Catholic's coach Dave Boff praised Pikiell in this Jeremy Schneider article after his first week on the job.
Boff believes that the fact that Pikiell got a commitment from Bullock just a week after taking the job should help prove to the school that they made a good choice in finding a replacement for Jordan.
"I hope it shows the alumni and the fan base at Rutgers that they got the right guy," Boff said. "They got a guy who understands what it's going to take. He came right in and he made Matt Bullock a priority for them right off the bat. When you make someone a priority, it shows what can be done. He sold Matt on the fact that he needed some guys to build it together with, and he thinks Matt will be one of those guys."
As for the future, Pikiell will likely evaluate the only two underclassmen named to the all-state second team, Linden sophomore guard Tavon Jones and Hudson Catholic guard Luther Muhammad. Jones led public school powerhouse Linden to a Group IV state title before losing the Tournament of Champions Final to St. Anthony's. He averaged 15 points a game in his breakout season. Muhammad is already a big time recruit for the class of 2018, rated 4-stars by 247 with reported offers from Pittsburgh, Rider, Cincinnati, Seton Hall and St. John's.
It is clear coach Pikiell plans to make keeping the best players in New Jersey home to play for Rutgers a priority. He had this to say at his introductory press conference last week:
"Part of your sell is how well the New Jersey players are doing in your program. So we look forward to recruiting this area hard. Coaches will know we're out. We'll do a great job evaluating, too."
Landing Bullock was a great start and hopefully the first of many all-state players from New Jersey to play for coach Pikiell at Rutgers.