Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell and his assistants have been very busy the past three weeks on the recruiting trail. With this weekend concluding the July live evaluation period, Rutgers made a splash offering three under the radar but talented players from the classes of 2018 and 2019. While Rutgers has tracked several targets this past month from the class of 2017, they have also done a good job of establishing new targets in future classes. Let’s take a look at who received offers and what it means for the program.
Chimezie Offurum - Class of 2018 Wing
Rutgers has offered Georgetown Prep (Md.) / Baltimore United 2018 wing Mezzie Offurum. #DMVhoops— Marcus Helton (@MarcusHelton) July 23, 2016
It was reported last week by Hoop Seen’s Corey Evans that the 6’5” wing was offered by Indiana. According to Verbal Commits, “Mezzie” also holds offers from Tulsa, Towson, UAB, and Canisius. In Offurum’s sophomore season highlights below, he demonstrates an ability to score in multiple ways and passes well in transition. He can beat defenders off the dribble and has good body control. Based on his performance this summer and his potential heading into his junior season, D.C. area schools Georgetown and Maryland may take notice eventually. It’s encouraging Rutgers got involved this week and hopefully they can build some momentum with Offurum as his recruitment continues.
Shamar Dillard - Class of 2018 Wing
Shamar Dillard ('18 South Bend Riley HS IN) has been offered by Rutgers.— MW Hoops Spotlight (@MidwestHoopsSL) July 23, 2016
The 6’4” wing from Indiana received an offer from Ball State last week and now has his first high major offer with Rutgers. He did take an unofficial visit to Michigan State last winter, according to 247 sports. On film, Dillard’s athleticism and passing ability shines through, while he also demonstrates a knack for knifing his way to the rim and finishing. As he enters his junior year, his profile is likely to grow playing high school basketball in Indiana and in Notre Dame’s backyard. He isn’t rated by any of the recruiting services as of yet, but credit Rutgers for offering off of their own evaluation. A major key to the success of Pikiell at Rutgers will be he and his staff’s ability to find under the radar talent that they can develop into players that can help the program.
Kofi Cockburn - Class of 2019 Center
Rutgers just offered Kofi Cockburn of @RENShoops & Christ The King— Andrew Slater (@ASlater247) July 23, 2016
The 6’11” Jamaican has started to receive a lot of attention on the recruiting trail after his performances this past month during the live period. He is teammates with Rutgers target and class of 2017 3-star point guard Jose Alvarado at both Christ The King high school and AAU power the New York Rens. Cockburn has only played a couple years of organized basketball and is extremely raw. He has only lived in the United States for less than a year and he is not currently rated by any recruiting services. However, that will change as early as next week after the summer he just had.
John Calipari watched Kofi Cockburn'19 today. St.John's, RU, SHU, VCU, SLU offers & UConn, UNLV & Maryland interest pic.twitter.com/fteRcIMdMt— Andrew Slater (@ASlater247) July 23, 2016
Zach Braziller of the New York Post wrote about Cockburn back in May and this is what his AAU coach at the NY Rens Chris Alesi said about his potential:
“By this time next year, I think he’s a top 25 player in the country [in his class],” Alesi said.
Cockburn has a big sophomore season ahead of him at Christ The King, and if he can continue his strong play from the summer, his profile will blow up even more and his offer list will surely balloon. Again, Rutgers is in on a player with high major potential early on in the recruiting process.
What It Means
In just a few months and with all the necessary changes the program needed made, coach Pikiell and his coaching staff have done a great job getting out ahead with the class of 2018 and 2019, offering talented players early in the recruiting process. In addition to offers yesterday to Offurum, Dillard, and Cockburn, Rutgers offered class of 2019 superstars Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis of Team Rio back in April. The dynamic duo, who also play together at The Ranney School, have received interest from Duke and Kentucky, while piling up offers from a number of high major schools already. They also offered 7’3” center Chol Marial from Connecticut by way of the Sudan.
The 2016-2017 season is critical for Pikiell to show improvement on the court, in order for Rutgers to begin to change perception of the program on the recruiting trail. Making progress on the court will help the staff land a solid 2017 recruiting class, hopefully filling their three open scholarships with players that can help establish a winning culture.
The staff continued to grind during the last week of the July live recruiting period, establishing new targets for future classes and continuing to track their priority recruits from the class of 2017. I will have updates where the staff traveled to and which other recruits they watched during the last evaluation period for the summer on Monday.