The Rutgers men's basketball coaching staff has had a lengthy to do list this offseason and a condensed time frame in which to work with. Next season's roster is still incomplete and the staff has a visit with Florida transfer Brandone Francis scheduled for next week. They also reached out to recent UCF decommit Jeremy Carter-Sheppard, who would be an incoming freshman and eligible for next season. There is still much work to be done.
However, the staff clearly has sights on the class of 2017 as well. They made offers on Thursday to two centers from the South, both of whom have multiple high major offers already. For Rutgers, they now have made over two dozen offers to recruits in the 2017 class. Currently there are three open scholarships, but the staff is working hard to fill one spot for next season, while also having a keen eye focused on the next recruiting cycle.
Let's take a look at the two new offers, two upcoming visits, and an updated grid for all the offers Rutgers has out to recruits from the class of 2017.
Rutgers has extended an offer to 2017 Virginia Academy & Uncommon Bulls Ejike Obinna pic.twitter.com/VmMIPHRi9E— Ray Matthews (@3Rayz) June 2, 2016
The 6'10" center from Ashburn, Virginia has 18 offers according to 247 sports, including Florida, Xavier, Miami, Cincinnati, LSU, Clemson, Penn State, Seton Hall, Texas AM and Temple, among others. He is rated a 4-star recruit by ESPN and a 3-star recruit by Scout and 247 sports. Big men who are skilled offensively are few and far between, and while Obinna is still developing, he is super athletic with a ton of potential. He has good body control when attacking the rim and has good footwork. Obinna needs to develop a mid-range jump shot, but that should come with time. He has shot blocking ability on the defensive end and plays with a high motor.
Word of God/Team Loaded NC's 2017, 6'10 Brandon Huffman tells me that he's just been offered by Rutgers University! pic.twitter.com/ZtcFrGIQeB— Ray (@RAM_Prospects) June 2, 2016
The Alaska native plays high school ball in North Carolina at powerhouse Word of God Christian Academy. That is the same school the former Rutgers player Bishop Daniels went to. The school has also produced NBA star John Wall, former N.C. State star C.J. Leslie, and former Maryland star Dez Wells. Huffman has double digit offers as well, including from Baylor, VCU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and TCU, according to 247 sports. He is rated a 3-star recruit by Scout, but is not currently rated by any other recruiting site.
His profile has been increasing since last fall, when high major schools first started showing interest. Huffman plays above the rim and with a lot of emotion. He is a bit raw and plays with a fire and intensity that he will need to control at the next level. Huffman has a decent mid-range jumper and can run the floor well, picking up offensive rebounds off the fast break. He dunks with authority and does a good job keeping the ball high when he receives it near the rim, where he is an explosive finisher. As he continues to develop his body, his shot blocking ability could be at an elite level.
The Rutgers coaching staff will make this summer a priority in hosting many 2017 targets on campus for unofficial visits in hopes of building momentum before the fall. They will likely try and schedule as many as possible this month before the July AAU tournament circuit is in full swing.
The staff offered Baker, one of the top point guards in New England, back in late April. Although Baker hasn't been rated by any recruiting services, the New England Recruiting Report lists Baker as the 3rd best player in New Hampshire and the 17th best player in the region. He has a tight handle, is a terrific passer, and has a solid shooting stroke. Baker needs to bulk up his frame to compete in a power five conference at the next level. While the staff is making NYC point guard Jose Alvarado a priority, Baker is an intriguing prospect as well. Rutgers is certainly in the mix for his services and will have the opportunity to make a big impression on Monday.
The talented forward has over 20 offers already, so getting him on campus for a visit would be a big deal. French plays for AAU power PSA Cardinals, so it's imperative coach Pikiell and the new staff work towards building relationships with the program. In this recent article from Adam Zagoria, French definitely sounds like he is strongly considering Rutgers:
"When I come back (he is visiting St. Louis) I'm going to visit Rutgers and St. John's," French told SNY.tv Thursday night, adding that no date is set for the Rutgers visit.
As for his upcoming visits, French said, "'[St. Louis] has a great coaching staff and they sound like they really are interested. Also St. John's and Rutgers, they sound very serious. And I like the way they handle themselves.
"I know that Rutgers is building themselves back up from losing a coach. And St. John's they're a very good program. If you're a kid from New York, you always think about St. John's."
French is also planning to visit VCU in August, according to the Zagoria article. It will be a battle for his services, and a head to head one against Chris Mullin and St. John's. French is super athletic and would fit right in with Pikiell's preferred style of play. His recruitment moving forward will be interesting to watch.
Class of 2017 Offer Chart
|Class Of 2017 Offers|
|Measurements||HS/State||Rating||Total Offers & Top Schools|
|Nick Richards||6'10"; 220 lbs||The Patrick School/NJ||5 Stars||13 : Kansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Syracuse, Uconn, Villanova|
|Victor Uyaelunmo||6'11"; 210 lbs||Gulliver Prep/FLA||4 Stars||7 : Georgetown, Florida, Florida State, USC|
|Bul Ajang||6'11"; 220 lbs||The Patrick School/NJ||3 Stars||2 : Pittsburgh|
|Ejike Obinna||6'10"; 220 lbs||Virginia Academy/VA||3 Stars||18 : Florida, Xavier, Cincinnati, Penn State, Seton Hall, Texas A&M|
|Brandon Huffman||6'10"; 250 lbs||Word of God/NC||3 Stars||10 : VCU, Baylor, Ole Miss, South Carolina, TCU|
|Chris Efretuei||7'0"; 250 lbs||The Park School/NY||Not Rated||3 : Sam Houston State, Fordham|
|Andre Rafus||6'9"; 200 lbs||Roselle Catholic/NJ||4 Stars||17 : Kansas, UConn, UCLA, Georgetown, West Virginia|
|RaiQuan Gray||6'8"; 235 lbs||Dillard/FLA||4 Stars||11 : Florida St, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Illinois|
|Makhtar Gueye||6'10||Winchendon/MA||4 Stars||7 : Florida, UConn, Marquette, Creighton, DePaul|
|Kimani Lawrence||6'7"; 200 lbs||New Hampton School/MA||4 Stars||5 : Texas, Providence, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure|
|Lance Thomas||6'8"; 210 lbs||Norcross, GA||3 Stars||19 : Florida, VCU, Dayton, USC, Arkansas, Memphis, LSU|
|Hasahn French||6'6"; 220 lbs||Commonwealth Academy/NH||3 Stars||20 : VCU, ASU, Providence, Cincinnati, Pitt, Nebraska. Seton Hall|
|Myles Douglas||6'6"; 190 lbs||Paul VI Catholic/VA||3 Stars||9 : Maryland, West Virginia, Miami, Temple, Penn State|
|Sidney Wilson||6'6"; 170 lbs||St. Raymond's/NYC||3 Stars||4 : Indiana, St. John's, Minnesota|
|Jordan Nwora||6'8"; 220 lbs||Vermont Academy/VT||Not Rated||16 :Florida, UConn, Xavier, Marquette, USC, Oklahoma State|
|Paul Reed||6'6"||Wekiva/FLA||Not Rated||3 : FIU, James Madison|
|C.J. Roberts||6'2"; 178 lbs||Richland/TX||4 Stars||14 : Baylor, South Carolina, SMU, Purdue, Wichita St, Illinois, Va Tech|
|Isaiah Washington||6'0"; 162 lbs||St. Raymond's/NYC||4 Stars||5 : Providence, Minnesota, Iona|
|Jay Jay Chandler||6'4"; 171 lbs||Cinco Ranch/TX||4 stars||20 : Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M, SMU, Virginia Tech, TCU|
|Nate Pierre-Louis||6'3"; 175 lbs||Roselle Catholic/NJ||3 Stars||14 : UConn, Georgetown, Florida State, Miami, Iowa State, Seton Hall|
|Jose Alvarado||6'0"; 160 lbs||Christ The King/NYC||3 Stars||12 : Indiana, Miami, VCU, St. John's, Seton Hall, Xavier|
|Keith Williams||6'5"; 190 lbs||Bishop Loughlin/NY||3 Stars||8 : VCU, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Dayton, Hofstra|
|Jerard Butler||6'4"||Westminster Academy/FLA||Not Rated||7 : Virginia Tech, LaSalle, Florida Gulf Coast|
|Geo Baker||6'2"||Proctor Academy/NH||Not Rated||13 : Kansas State, Vermont, George Mason, Penn, Stony Brook|
|Luke Loewe||6'3"; 160 lbs||Ripon/WI||Not Rated||8 : St. Joseph's, Wisco-Milwaukee, Lehigh|
This is obviously a lengthy offer list out, but it makes sense for the new staff to scour the country and put offers out to so many targets. To rebuild the program, the staff cannot leave any stone unturned and there is no doubt they are taking that approach.
At this point, I think it's likely Rutgers will have two open scholarships headed into next season to have available in recruiting the 2017 class. Of course, it's certainly possible there will be additional roster attrition after next season, something that isn't uncommon after the first season with a new coach at the helm. If that happens, Rutgers is putting itself in position to potentially fill a transfer spot from this lengthy offer list.
The staff knows how important it will be to show progress on the court in the coming season. While Rutgers is facing a major uphill battle to land a blue chip recruit like Roselle Catholic's Andre Rafus, who is being recruited by Kentucky and Kansas, there are a ton of exciting and talented recruits they have offered.
It will be fascinating to track who the staff is tracking and pursuing next month during the AAU tournament circuit. Securing a point guard for the future is a priority, as is adding athleticism to the frontcourt. It is important that they build some momentum this summer and it would be ideal to land a top target this fall.