College basketball recruiting is no crazier than during the month of July, during the live period which features three weeks of countless AAU tournaments and events. We previewed what to expect from Rutgers here. With the first week in the books, let's review who Rutgers offered and watched, as well as checking in on performances of some players who already hold offers from the coaching staff.
Blessed to receive an offer from Rutgers ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/SN7puKBzQX— Isaiah Kelly (@Isaiahkelly_) July 9, 2016
Kelly is a 3-star 6'7" forward from Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia for the class of 2018. According to 247 sports, Kelly has offers from Iowa State, Memphis, Wisconsin, Xavier, and Vanderbilt. This past week Rutgers offered him as well. There are a slew of other high major programs interested in Kelly, so his offer list should continue to grow as he enters his junior year of high school. 247 sports also reported that Kelly recently camped at Wisconsin and took an unofficial visit to Butler. It is good that Rutgers offered Kelly as early as they did, with hopes of gaining interest from the athletic wing player who is considered one of the best in Georgia for the class of 2018.
Amanze Ngumezi is a 6'7" forward from Savannah, Georgia from the class of 2018 and is AAU teammates with Kelly. He currently is more under the radar than Kelly is, but credit to the Rutgers staff for identifying him as a target early on in his recruiting process. Rutgers is the first Division I school to offer Ngumezi, who previously played for the Atlanta Celtics, before joining Kelly on the Atlanta Express. Highlights of Ngumezi with the Celtics from 2015 are below at the 1:40 mark of the video.
Amanze Ngumezi was all over the floor today. Finished w/ 15 pts and a load of rebounds. High energy athletic big. pic.twitter.com/2FRfFMbj3m— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) July 7, 2016
Targets Watched By Rutgers Staff
There should be little doubt that Alvarado is a priority and top target for coach Pikiell and his staff. Rutgers hosted Alvarado on campus back in June and tracked him this past week at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina. The dynamic New York City point guard is rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals, Scout, and 247 sports, while ESPN rates him a 4-star recruit. Regardless, based on his high school and AAU career so far, Alvarado seems like an ideal player to build a program around. Analysts were gushing about his leadership, toughness and play making ability from this past week.
The toughness, poise, and leadership that Jose Alvarado brings to the PG spot is just invaluable. Consummate floor general #PeachJam2016— Ari (@realA_rosenfeld) July 9, 2016
Jose Alvarado has been the MVP this 2nd half for The RENs. Leading the team on both sides of the ball. Excellent leader.— MakePlayz (@MakePlayz_com) July 9, 2016
We talk a lot about the wow guys & the NY Rens have plenty. We don't talk enough about the 1s who pretty the game. Jose Alvardo is that guy— Justin Young (@JustinDYoung) July 7, 2016
Rutgers needs a true point guard to ultimately replace Corey Sanders and Alvarado would be a major win on the recruiting trail for Pikiell. Establishing a good relationship with NYC high school power Christ the King and AAU power the NY Rens, both of whom Alvarado plays for, would be an added benefit of landing him. However, his talent and character would make him ideal to lead the program into the future. Expect Pikiell and the staff to court Alvarado as much as possible leading up to and throughout his senior season. His commitment would go a long way in helping change the perception of Rutgers on the recruiting trail.
PSA Cardinals & Hasahn French
Talking about Rutgers building relationships with top programs, their isn't a hotter or more stacked AAU program right now for the class of 2017 than the PSA Cardinals. They drew huge crowds this past week on their way to winning the Peach Jam. While they are loaded with players being recruiting by elite college basketball programs, Rutgers offered Hasahn French back in April and were hoping to host him on campus before the July live period began. That doesn't appear to have happened, but they will likely attempt to get him to take an unofficial visit before the school year begins. According to 247 sports, he recently took unofficial visits to St. Louis, Temple, and St. John's and has offers from over 20 schools.
Just have to throw Hasahn French and Walter Whyte out onto the floor. Who cares what position. Guys that grind & win. Unafraid of the moment— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) July 10, 2016
NFL scouts need to stop Augusta this weekend. Hasahn French may be the second of Antonio Gates. Lefty bulldog with a chip— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) July 6, 2016
Huffman was offered by Rutgers in early June, which we covered here. Since that time, the 6'9" big man has picked up additional offers from Georgia, UConn, and Texas A&M, according to 247 sports. Huffman plays high school ball at Word of God Christian Academy in North Carolina, the same school that former Rutgers player Bishop Daniels graduated from. There wasn't much reported in terms of frontcourt players that the coaching staff tracked this past week, but they did see Huffman. With a bunch of high major offers and his profile continuing to rise, it will be interesting to see if Rutgers stays in the mix for the talented class of 2017 forward.
Baker visited campus in June after being offered in April, and he is one of the top point guards from New England in the class of 2017. While Alvarado appears to be target 1A at the point guard position, Baker seems to be 1B. He does have the ability to play shooting guard as well, so it's possible Rutgers would be interested in taking both players. While not many high major schools have offered Baker yet, he does have over a dozen offers so far according to 247 sports.
Coach Pikiell personally watched Loewe in action this past week. Loewe visited campus a couple of weeks ago and is a great shooter that Rutgers appears to be targeting hard as well. The 2017 recruit from Wisconsin had an impressive workout leading up to the start of the live period.
July 5th Fireworks!! - Senior Luke Loewe's noon shooting workout 730 makes /1K shots!! Lighting up FHS Fieldhouse!! pic.twitter.com/owJNZaWok5— FONDY HOOPS (@fondyhoops) July 5, 2016
He played well this past week and while Rutgers is currently his only high major offer, he did receive an offer this past week from Illinois State. He isn't just a great shooter, as his defensive ability makes him a solid two-way player. He was mentioned as a top performer at the Next Level Invitational last week. Davidson appears to be a school that Loewe is interested in, as he took an unofficial visit there last month as well. Rutgers appears to be very interested in the class of 2017 guard and will likely push to get him back on campus for an official visit this fall.
Sports U & Naz Reid
Seton Hall staff 3 deep including coach Willard for Sports U 16s vs We R 1. Rutgers staff 2 deep. Sports U up 4 at half— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 10, 2016
The class of 2018 roster with the Sports U AAU program is simply loaded. The roster includes high major targets Atiba Taylor, Luther Muhammad, Louis King, Jahvon Quinerly, and Naz Reid. They won the Elevate Summer Hoops Showdown in Philadelphia this past weekend and Rutgers was watching closely. The "Fab 5" of Sports U all hold offers from Seton Hall, UConn, St. John's, and Rutgers, according to SNY's Adam Zagoria. Reid is a 5-star center from Roselle Catholic, Quinerly, Muhammad and King play at Hudson Catholic, and Taylor plays at Pope John. Landing anyone of the five would be a major score for Pikiell and the staff, with Reid being the crown jewel. Rutgers is doing a good job of getting into the mix for these players, even though the staff will need to show major progress on the court and land a notable player in this coming recruiting cycle to build momentum in hopes of having a legitimate chance with any of these recruits.
In 17 chip at half Sports U 28 Team Melo 26. Rutgers coaches Brandon Knight & Jay Young still here watching action pic.twitter.com/WBRaKHqNR6— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 10, 2016
Reid actually suffered a knee injury last week, but fortunately no major damage occurred.
An MRI on Naz Reid's left knee came back negative, I'm told. No ligament damage and he is scheduled to see a physical therapist today.— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) July 11, 2016
That Naz Reid news is obviously huge for him and @rc_basketball which should contend again for the New Jersey TOC title— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 11, 2016
New Targets & Other Observations
The 4-star 6'10" center from Houston, Texas from the class of 2017 holds offers from Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UCLA, and Virginia Tech, according to 247 sports. It's not clear if Rutgers was specifically watching Samuel or perhaps targeting another player. However, Samuel is a talented big and Rutgers would probably love to get into the mix of his recruitment. No word yet if the staff did make an offer this weekend, but it will be something to watch for.
Other Staff Sightings
As I mentioned in the preview leading up to the live recruiting period, the NY Rens are loaded with talent. Aside from Jose Alvarado, they feature two other players that Rutgers has offered in Jordan Nwora and Chris Efretuei. The biggest reason for why so many coaches from elite programs were watching the Rens in action was 5-star guard Hamidou Diallo, who has his pick of pretty much any top program in the country.
This game took place at the Adidas Uprising event, happening simultaneously as the Peach Jam in South Carolina. No word on any players Rutgers is specifically targeting right now.
With one week complete, the Rutgers coaching staff covered a lot of ground, watching both new and current targets throughout the country. There are some updates regarding current targets who performed well this past week here and here. The craziness that is college basketball recruiting will pick back up again this Wednesday, with the coaching staff back on the trail. High profile tournaments and events take place this week in Las Vegas, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Kansas. Rutgers will continue to work hard in narrowing down their class of 2017 top targets, in hopes of getting them on campus for unofficial visits the rest of this summer. Making progress there and landing recruits for official visits in the fall is a priority, with a likely goal to land at least one high priority recruit before the 2016-2017 season begins. Stay tuned!