It took a few weeks but new Rutgers men's basketball coach Steve Pikiell finally has his coaching staff filled out. It was worth the wait. This staff is as strong as I can remember at Rutgers in decades. When you land not one, but two top assistant coaches, on top of your former top assistant at a mid-major, I don't see how the job Pikiell did in filling out his staff can be characterized as anything other than a home run!
Karl Hobbs has been with Rutgers for days now after leaving UConn to join his old friend and former assistant on the banks. A full profile of Hobbs is here. To add a veteran assistant who had two successful stints at UConn, including two national championships, is a great hire. To have a former head coach who has a career winning record at a mid-major school along with multiple NCAA appearances is great too. Pikiell got both backgrounds with Hobbs, who is as experienced as an associate head coach comes. Hobbs has more years of college coaching experience than all but three Big Ten head coaches (Tom Izzo; John Beilein; Fran McCaffrey).
Brandin Knight was rumored to be a candidate for the associate head coaching spot that Hobbs landed, and it was fair to think Rutgers was no longer in play for him once that position was filled. However, Pikiell kept pursuing Knight, who reportedly turned down a raise to stay at Pitt under new head coach Kevin Stallings. A full profile on Knight is here. The New Jersey native and Seton Hall Prep alumnus is said to have many local connections with high school and AAU coaches. He will likely mentor the backcourt for Rutgers.
Jay Young was the top lieutenant for Pikiell at Stony Brook since 2009, and worked under him for the past 11 seasons there. Young ran the defense and mentored the frontcourt for Pikiell. A full profile of Jay Young is here.
Overall, you really couldn't ask for a better staff in terms of experience and a proven track record regarding player development. Some of the best players in UConn and Pitt history were coached by Hobbs and Knight. Young is credited with developing the best player in Stony Brook history, three-time America East player of the year Jameel Warney. They are proven developers. Recruiting is a legitimate question, more in terms of the staff's ability to do so at Rutgers, as they all have been successful recruiters to varying degrees in their careers. Until they prove they can land top recruits at Rutgers, especially local players, the question will remain.
Regardless, it's hard to imagine that Pikiell could have done any better in hiring a coaching staff. In addition, he retains Greg "Shoes" Vetrone as a special advisor, preserving ties with key players on the roster like Corey Sanders, Jonathan Laurent, and Deshawn Freeman. 3-star wing recruit Issa Thiam committed to Rutgers under Eddie Jordan, but his ties are with Shoes. Hopefully, they can get the smooth shooting wing with length on the banks this summer. In addition, Pikiell has brought Bryan Dougher and former assistant Dan Rickard to Rutgers in support roles. It is a veteran group all around that includes multiple staffers that have worked with or for Pikiell in the past. Rickard and Shoes bring added experience in support roles after both were assistants the past few years. With his staff in place, it's now time for Rutgers to hit the ground running in filling out the rest of the roster, which currently has a minimum of four open scholarships for next season.
So what do you think about all the moves that new men's basketball coach Steve Pikiell has made in the past month since being hired by Rutgers? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments section.