The Rutgers men's basketball team is actively searching to add to their roster, having just 10 scholarship players in the program. Although Florida transfer Brandone Francis would need to sit out next season, his talent and potential make him an intriguing prospect. Rutgers appears to have a legitimate shot to land the former 4-star recruit, who is set to visit two weekends from now.
Texas Tech and Rutgers both in the mix for Florida transfer Brandone Francis, source told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 30, 2016
Florida transfer Brandone Francis visits Texas Tech next weekend and then Rutgers June 10-12, sources tell @SNYtv. @GoodmanESPN 1st reported— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 31, 2016
Francis redshirted his freshman year due to academic reasons and then had a disappointing first season at Florida, averaging just 2.0 points and 1.0 assist in 10.8 minutes per game. Francis already sat out one season, so having to sit out another due to transfer rules will actually cost him one year of eligibility. The NCAA allows 5 years to play 4 seasons, so Francis would need to appeal to gain a rare 6th year. He must have weighed this factor in making his decision to leave the SEC program, as it's unlikely he would win a 6th year without any hardship case, which his does not seem to be. As of now, he would need to sit next season and then have two years of eligibility remaining.
Even so, there is no denying that Francis is a talented player who could thrive with a change of environment. Rutgers has just three scholarship guards who have college experience heading into next season. All-state guard Matt Bullock also joins the roster, but it's too early to tell how much of a contributor he will be next season. Adding Francis to the roster will add talent and depth for the 2017-2018 season.
The only other player that we know of on the radar for Rutgers right now is UCF decommit Jeremy Carter-Sheppard. The combo guard just reopened his recruitment last week and Rutgers was one of the first schools to pursue him. No word yet on whether he will schedule a visit to Rutgers. He would be a big get this late in the game due to his ability to play the point and shoot the three. Carter-Sheppard is undersized and needs to bulk up, but he could get significant minutes next season due to the lack of depth in the backcourt.
While Rutgers is probably exhausting every option on the graduate transfer front, it's an uphill battle to find a player with just one season of eligibility remaining to commit to a program in full rebuild mode. There have been no graduate transfers reported to be considering Rutgers at the moment.
Head coach Steve Pikiell has said keeping 1-2 scholarships open for the 2017 recruiting cycle was preferred. However, with 3 open spots it would benefit Rutgers to land either Francis or Carter-Sheppard. Adding new players to the mix help speed up the change in culture that Pikiell and his staff are working towards. Even though Francis wouldn't be able to play this coming season, he would practice with the team. The staff would be able to work on his development in hopes of him making a major impact the following season.
Here is a mixtape of Francis from high school, where he was a top recruit coming out of Arlington Country Day in Florida. Keep in mind that is the same school that recent class of 2016 commit Issa Thiam played at as well. More to come as news develops regarding his decision on where to transfer.