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Rutgers Basketball Hosting Baylor Graduate Transfer

NCAA Basketball: Stony Brook at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, it was reported that Canadian wing Eugene Omoruyi was set to visit campus today. In fact, he is one of two players that are visiting Rutgers today and both are eligible for next season.

Chad Rykhoek (pronounced Rye-Cook) is a 6’11” center who was the 187th ranked recruit by 247 sports in the class of 2012. He redshirted during the 2012-2013 season, then missed the next due to injuries. He left the Baylor basketball program in the summer of 2014 “due to medical reasons”. It now appears he is healthy enough to resume his playing career, and visited Clemson, Georgia Tech and Colorado back in May. It’s likely none of those programs offered the wiry big man, as two plus months later he is still searching for a new home. All reports on the former 3-star recruit are that he has two years of eligibility remaining. As a graduate transfer, he is eligible immediately.

Hosting Rykhoek is an interesting development. While Rutgers has just ten scholarship players for next season, there are already four frontcourt players on the roster at 6’9” or above with JUCO transfer Candido Sa, returning big men Shaq Doorson and Ibrahima Diallo, as well as freshman Issa Thiam. However, Thiam is a natural wing player and Doorson and Diallo are returning from season ending injuries. Credit the coaching staff for doing their due diligence in exploring every possible option this late in the process. I would actually be surprised if Rutgers already offered Rykhoek though, and expect them to thoroughly work him out the next day or two, so they can properly evaluate his health and ability.

As for Omoruyi, he has the potential to help right away next season and can provide versatility that head coach Steve Pikiell values. Based on both he and Rykhoek’s situations, it seems more likely that Rutgers adds Omoruyi this week on his visit. Of course, if Rutgers has or does in fact offer Rykhoek, it’s likely he would also commit with seemingly no other visits planned.

If that does happen, it impacts the short term and long term future of the program in different ways. In the short term, the roster for next season will then have twelve scholarship players, which is obviously a much better situation than the current one. Depth is a major concern right now, and while adding both Omoruyi and Rykhoek doesn’t solve the lack of guards on the roster, it will certainly help the team next season. The big question is how much will they help, and in Rykhoek’s case, is it worth taking a chance on an oft injured big man that hasn’t played competitive basketball in four years?

In the long term, taking into account the recent commitment of Geo Baker from the class of 2017, adding both players visiting would fill every available scholarship for the next two seasons. There are no current seniors on the roster. Now the scholarship situation can always change at any moment, but that would technically be the case if both players committed this week. Perhaps I am jumping too far ahead, as nothing has happened yet. There is also the possibility of current players transferring after the season, which would open up scholarships for the class of 2017.

Either way, it is a fascinating time to follow the Rutgers men’s basketball program. The new coaching staff is recruiting players for now and in the future, and exploring every option they deem viable. The outcome of the visits with Omoruyi and Rykhoek this week may significantly impact the staff’s pursuit of their targets in the class of 2017. However, they need to add a guard in that class and are tenaciously pursuing point guards Jose Alvarado and Christian PoPoola. Give Pikiell and his staff the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing, and sit back while they put the work in on reshaping the roster. Like Rutgers football coach Chris Ash, it’s a good thing that Pikiell is willing to mix it up and make late additions with players he feels can help the program. Stay tuned.