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Rutgers Basketball Recruiting Updates From Second Live Period

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Basketball: Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The second live period of July is now complete and the Rutgers coaching staff was once again busy on the recruiting trail. It is an extremely important month for the program, as the new coaching staff continues to establish their brand to recruits. We previewed the July live recruiting period here, and reviewed the first week of action here. Let’s take a look at where the staff went and who they watched play this past week.

The Under Armour Association Finals were held in Atlanta last week and head coach Steve Pikiell was spotted arriving for the tournament on Friday. Local AAU powerhouses played in both the U15 & U16 Finals, and Rutgers was there for both.

New Heights

The New Heights AAU team from New York City had a successful weekend and they feature Sidney Wilson, Isaiah Washington, and Keith Williams. All three players were offered by Eddie Jordan’s staff. Pikiell and staff were evaluating them this past week. Both Wilson and Washington visited Rutgers last September, back when they were also teammates at St. Raymond’s in the Bronx. Wilson, a 3-star forward, recently reclassified to the class of 2018 and transferred to prep powerhouse Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Washington is a 4-star point guard in the class of 2017 with a solid list of suitors. Williams is a 3-star shooting guard in the class of 2017 who plays high school ball at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn. It will be interesting to see if Pikiell and staff make a run at any of the three city players.

The duo of Wilson and Washington put on a show this past week, something they’ve been doing for quite awhile on the AAU circuit.

Sports U & Team Rio

Aside from watching New Heights, Pikiell was front and center for Sports U, who won the UAA title this weekend over another local program, Team Rio.

Sports U features their own “Fab Five” of Naz Reid, Atiba Taylor, Louis King, Luther Muhammad, Jahvon Quinerly. They are all from the class of 2018 and rated 3-star recruits or above, with the entire group holding offers from Seton Hall, UConn, and Rutgers, per SNY’s Adam Zagoria. The crown jewel of the group is Reid, a 5-star center who attends Roselle Catholic high school. While landing Reid is not likely at this point, Pikiell has a great relationship with RC head coach Dave Boff. If Rutgers can make significant progress on the court in the next two seasons, perhaps Reid will seriously consider the program among an offer list full of elite programs.

In addition, Pikiell watched two superstars in the class of 2019, Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis of Team Rio. The guard tandem also attend the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey and have exploded on the recruiting scene together the past year. Rutgers offered the pair back in April and they have continued to see their stock rise this summer. Both will have their choice programs to choose from, as Duke and Kentucky started showing interest now. Still, it’s great to see Pikiell making an effort early on, despite the steep competition for their services. There is a lot of time before the duo has to make a decision.

Here are highlights from the U16 Final between Sports U and Team Rio.

NJ Playaz

The NJ Playaz were at the Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest this past week, and Rutgers assistant Jay Young watched them in action. 3-star center Bul Ajang has offers from Auburn and Pitt, as well as Rutgers, according to 247 sports. The class of 2017 big man plays at the Patrick School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Speedy guard Leondre Washington is also on the NJ Playaz and while I don’t think an offer has been made yet, he visited Rutgers back in June.

The NJ Playaz 16U team features point guard Jalen Carey from the class of 2018, who Rutgers offered back in April. The Harlem product plays high school ball at Immaculate Conception in Montclair, New Jersey for longtime AAU coach Jimmy Salmons. He picked up an offer from Penn State this week and is ranked #32 in ESPN’s top 60 for the class of 2018.

Brycen Goodine

The 6’4 guard exploded onto the scene last season and was even featured by ESPN in this article. The athletic guard, who can dunk with the best of them, plays for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club on the Nike EYBL circuit. He should be entering his junior season in high school, but I’ve seen some refer to him as a member of the class of 2019, so perhaps he reclassified. Either way, Goodine is a talented guard that now appears to be on the radar of Rutgers.

Showtime Ballers

If the Showtime Ballers sound familar, its because they are the AAU team that Rutgers guard Corey Sanders played for. The previous coaching staff were attempting to create a pipeline from the state of Florida last summer, which I covered here. Pikiell and the new staff are working to build a relationship with the program as well, and offered class of 2017 forward Paul Reed and class of 2018 wing Keyshawn Bryant back in May. Rutgers appeared to be checking in on Reed this past week. His profile remains a bit under the radar and he hasn’t gotten any other power five offers to date, but Reed has impressed so far during the July live period. If Rutgers is serious about him, they will attempt to get Reed on campus this fall and have the benefit of offering him early.

PSA Cardinals

I’ve talked about the importance of Rutgers building a relationship with the PSA Cardinals at length, as they are a premier national program on the Nike EYBL circuit. Hasahn French is the top target of the Rutgers’s staff on the PSA Cardinals right now, a team loaded with elite Division I talent. Rutgers offered him back in April and French had mentioned previously he wanted to visit campus. Hopefully that happens in the near future. It does appear another player on the roster has now caught the eye of the staff and could be in line to receive an offer soon.

Mamadou Doucoure

Doucoure is a 4-star center who plays for PSA Cardinals and teammate of French. He has a big frame and mature body. He is a physical player who has offers from St. John’s, UConn, Pitt, and Seton Hall, according to 247 sports. The 6’9 big man from the class of 2018 will surely see his offer list grow heading into his junior season. Rutgers could be one of those schools to offer Doucoure after his solid performance the past two weeks.

Stock Rising : Jordan Nwora

Nwora was offered by Rutgers in late April. Since then, the 4-star forward has played very well and has close to twenty offers, according to 247 sports. They reportedly include UConn, Florida State, Florida, Pitt, VCU, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Memphis, Marquette, Temple and Seton Hall. Many of those offers came after Rutgers, but within a couple weeks of each other. Rutgers watched Nwora play at the Peach Jam last week. It will certainly be a dogfight to land the talented class of 2017 forward, and we will see if Rutgers ends up pursuing him further. Nwora’s teammate on the Rens is point guard Jose Alvarado, who is a top target of Rutgers and would be a major building block for the program.

NJ AAU Programs Dominating & Top Targets

The Rutgers coaching staff put in a lot of time tracking every local AAU team that Adam Zagoria mentions in the above tweet. There is a ton of talent for the classes of 2017 & 2018 residing on those teams rosters. That doesn’t even include Team Rio, who have the superstar tandem of Lewis & Antoine for the class of 2019.

It makes sense to track so much talent jam packed into a handful of local teams. Coach Pikiell and the staff have to put their time in with these type of programs and build relationships for the long term. They certainly seem to be doing that this month, consistent with every step they have taken in building relationships since the staff took over the program in April.

It has seemed for a while now that the coaching staff made point guard Jose Alvarado and forward Hasahn French top priorities for the class of 2017. SNY’s Adam Zagoria confirmed that in this article yesterday. He also said New Hampshire guard Geo Baker is near the top of the list as well, who like Alvarado, visited Rutgers in June. His ability to play off the ball makes him a take even if Rutgers does land Alvarado, as they could play in tandem. The fourth name Zagoria mentioned was Mahktar Gueye, the 3-star forward who plays at The Winchendon School in Massachusetts. Rutgers offered Gueye back in April. Since then, he has picked up offers from Creighton, UConn, DePaul, Florida, and VCU. It will be a battle for the class of 2017 big man.

With one week left in the live recruiting period, Rutgers will continue to push hard and work to set up visits for those targets just mentioned for the class of 2017. They will also want to get some targets from future classes on campus as well, preferably in August during the quiet period. Also expect a big recruiting weekend planned during a football home game in September, most likely the opener against Iowa.

The staff will likely attempt to secure a commitment from a top target or two early on in the school year, in hopes of building momentum on the recruiting trail. The Rutgers staff has definitely laid the groundwork in determining their top targets and finding new talent as well. There haven’t been any reported new offers made after the second live period, but its likely word of one or more will trickle out this week. Rutgers has three available scholarships for the class of 2017.