We are in the middle of the Spring evaluation period on the AAU circuit and to say the Rutgers men's basketball coaching staff has been busy may actually be an understatement. Last week, they made several offers, targeting players from AAU powerhouse the Florida Vipers and two top tier New Jersey high school programs, Roselle Catholic and the Patrick School. After several days of scouting at various events, Steve Pikiell and his staff made seven new offers yesterday to players from all over the country.
Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell has joined assistant Brandin Knight here at the #PittJamFest pic.twitter.com/i0xlQ2UtIu— Hoop Group (@TheHoopGroup) April 24, 2016
Personally, I loved this picture of Pikiell and Knight scouting at the Pitt Jam Fest. These guys are grinders and will be relentless in targeting talent to elevate the program. Maybe its the coffee or seeing Knight in a Rutgers pullover, but I'm not sure how any RU hoops fan cannot be excited about this new staff. With four open scholarships for next season, Pikiell is wisely targeting the transfer and JUCO markets. Yesterday, with an eye on the future, the staff made five offers to players in the class of 2017 and two rising superstars from New Jersey in the class of 2019. Let's get into it.
Four-Star PG C.J. Roberts adds #Rutgers offer - https://t.co/aqBnke9LGr #B1G #RHoops #B1GHoops pic.twitter.com/4uSTJ5vghj— Richie Schnyderite (@RichieSRivals) April 25, 2016
Roberts, a class of 2017 recruit, is a 4-star point guard from Texas and according to 247 sports holds fourteen scholarship offers. The schools include Baylor, LSU, SMU, TCU, Wichita State and fellow Big Ten schools Purdue and Illinois. He is a big time floor general who could become the heir apparent to Corey Sanders. Rutgers certainly faces an uphill battle to land the dynamic player, but you have to be happy with the staff making a serious play for him.
Not a bad day for @RivalsNation either - Wabissa Bede gets DePaul offer & Makhtar Gueye gets Rutgers https://t.co/qyo0Gh0Oo9— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) April 25, 2016
The 6'10" power forward from the class of 2017 preps in Massachusetts at The Winchendon School. 247 sports lists offers from Marquette and UAB, with Rutgers being the third school to offer. He is from Senegal and has grown two inches since last summer, which helps explain why he is still a bit under the radar. You cannot teach size and Gueye could be the type of development project that Pikiell and staff could mold into a defensive monster that Rutgers desperately needs.
2017 Park School of Buffalo (NY) C Chris Efretuei received an offer from Rutgers. (HT @ASlater247) @chrisefretuei https://t.co/vDa9vPkfUF— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) April 25, 2016
The 7 footer is of Nigerian descent and attends the Park School of Buffalo. According to Verbal Commits, Efretuei holds offers from Fordham and Sam Houston State, in addition to Rutgers. Could he be the next Hamady N'Diaye, the last 7 footer to play at Rutgers and all-time shot blocking leader in program history? Landing him or Gueye would fill a major need for the staff.
2017 Park School of Buffalo (NY) F Jordan Nwora has received an offer from Rutgers. (HT @ASlater247) @JordanNwora https://t.co/c9mwojMJMh— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) April 25, 2016
Nwora plays with Efretuei at The Park School of Buffalo and is a 6'8" forward, who in the last month has received offers from Seton Hall, Auburn, USC, DePaul, Iona, and Oklahoma State, according to Verbal Commits. He is seeing his recruitment blowing up and it's good to see Rutgers get in the mix. I'm not sure if Nwora and Efretuei hope to play together in college as well, but it seems like a smart idea to target both players.
Never felt so goodJust got off the phone with coach Pikiell! Happy to say I received an offer from Rutgers! #Big10 pic.twitter.com/I5hT4TTuQ5— Geo Baker (@Geo_Baker_1) April 25, 2016
Baker is a point guard that plays at Proctor Academy in New Hampshire and is from Boston, Massachusetts. He is starting to gain interest from power five schools. He received an offer from Kansas State and Rutgers yesterday. According to Verbal Commits, he also holds offers from George Mason, Vermont, Holy Cross, and Northeastern, among others. He is known for his ball handling and effort. He needs to bulk up to play in a power conference but is an intriguing prospect that the staff surely see a ton of potential in.
Bryan Antoine & Scottie Lewis
Rutgers, Temple & Colgate have also offered '19 guard Bryan Antoine & '19 wing Scottie Lewis from Team Rio (NJ).— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) April 25, 2016
Steve Pikiell is certainly eyeing the future and he made that clear with a pair of offers to two class of 2019 star recruits from New Jersey. Both Antoine and Lewis play at the Ranney School in Eatontown, New Jersey, as well as AAU ball with Team Rio. Both players had quite a day on Monday, receiving offers from Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida and Villanova to name a few, in addition to Rutgers.
2019s Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antonie have received offers from Florida, Colgate, Temple, Notre Dame, Villanova, Rutgers and Maryland.— MakePlayz (@MakePlayz_com) April 25, 2016
Antoine is a deep threat from behind the arc and Lewis loves to play above the rim. Both players are likely to become the top players in the state for the 2019 class and will be able to choose from any school to play for at the next level. Rutgers will certainly have its work cut out for them to make a serious run at the duo, but Pikiell has shown no fear so far in targeting elite players in New Jersey. Last week, Rutgers made offers to the Patrick School 5-star center Nick Richards and Roselle Catholic 5-star forward Naz Reid from the class of 2018. Getting into the mix with these program changing players is a necessary step for Rutgers. Basketball recruiting is such that just landing one or two elite players can completely change the trajectory of the program.
Pikiell and his staff have a long way to go, but they are planting the seeds for future growth. In the past, Rutgers never even put soil down. It's a major step, one of many that must be completed on the road to respectability. The point though, is Rutgers has a coach in place with the vision and plan to get the program there. There will be some rainy days ahead, but once the sun shines and the first star sprouts, the sky is the limit for this program.