There is no denying that the Rutgers basketball program had a tremendous August. Securing late commitments for this coming season from Canadian wing Eugene Omoruyi and UNC-Wilmington graduate transfer and center C.J. Gettys were paramount. Increasing the depth of scholarship players from ten to twelve this late in process was the equivalent to a half court shot that went in at the buzzer.
The program has continued full steam ahead on the recruiting trail as the calendar turned to September. It was reported by SNY’s Adam Zagoria that Rutgers hosted a big time guard yesterday.
2018 G @Almightyjay_25 Jalen Carey is on an unofficial visit to Rutgers this morning.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 1, 2016
Jalen Carey is a consensus 4-star recruit in the class of 2018, who is originally from New York City. Carey plays high school ball for Immaculate Conception in Montclair, New Jersey. He also plays on the Nike EYBL circuit with the NJ Playaz and Rutgers offered the talented floor leader back in April. According to 247 sports, Carey currently holds additional offers from Pitt, Penn State, Temple, VCU, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s, DePaul, and Monmouth, as well as others. He is rated as one of the top 100 players in the class of 2018 by ESPN, Rivals, Scout, and 247 sports.
The 6’3’’ guard can play both the 1 & 2 positions, but it probably better suited as a point guard at the next level. Rutgers is smart to pursue him, as Carey could be a program changer, both on the court and in the court of public perception on the recruiting trail. According to Zagoria, who spoke with Carey’s father, Pikiell is making him a priority for the future.
You can watch highlights of his sophomore season at Immaculate Conception here.
In addition to Carey visiting Rutgers, two of his high school teammates joined him.
Justin Winston and Dejourn Cook are also at Rutgers today with Jalen Carey, per source— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 1, 2016
Rutgers offered 3-star forward Justin Winston back in April on the same day they offered Carey.
2018s Jalen Carey and Justin Winston of Montclair Immaculate were offered by Rutgers and St. Joe's, per @JSnjPlayaz— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 26, 2016
Winston also holds offers from Penn State, Pitt, Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s, and DePaul, according to Verbal Commits. The 6’6” forward played his freshman season at West Orange high school, before transferring to Immaculate Conception along with Carey, before last season. The school’s head coach is Jimmy Salmon, who led the duo with the NJ Playaz as well. Rutgers fans may remember Salmon, a longtime AAU fixture in the state, from when he coached former NBA player and one time phenom Tim Thomas at Paterson Catholic in the nineties. Rutgers was very close to landing Thomas, before he committed to Villanova and Salmon became an assistant there.
Salmon has coached some of the best high school players in New Jersey for decades, including most recently Karl-Anthony Towns, who played for the NJ Playaz before starring at Kentucky and being drafted as the #1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
The Rutgers staff will certainly continue to track Carey and Winston during their junior seasons. In addition, they hosted another player from Immaculate Conception, 6’5” wing forward Dejourn Cook from the class of 2019. It doesn’t appear Rutgers has offered Cook yet, but they are obviously interested in his development by hosting him as well. According to Verbal Commits, Cook holds offers from DePaul and Pitt as he enters his sophomore season.
It appears Carey, Winston and Cook all enjoyed their visit to Rutgers.
2018 G Jalen Carey, F Justin Winston & 2019 F Dejourn Cook all unofficially visited Rutgers U today. All 3 were impressed & enjoyed the day.— ICHoops (@IC_Hoops) September 1, 2016
They aren’t alone. In this video, 2019 elite recruits Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine raved about their recent visit to the program. Steve Pikiell continues to pursue top in-state talent since his arrival at Rutgers in April, and did a great job of getting 5-star center Naz Reid on campus last month. Obviously, Rutgers has had little success in the past landing top recruits from New Jersey. However, they were rarely even in the game, and the amount of top tier recruits the new coaching staff have hosted this summer has been nothing short of impressive.
And today, it got even better, with word of another elite 2018 recruit visiting campus.
Louis King, a class of 2018 SF from Hudson Catholic (NJ), is headed to Rutgers for an unofficial visit today.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) September 2, 2016
Louis King plays for the renowned Sports U team that plays on the Nike EYBL circuit and whom the staff tracked throughout the July live recruiting period. He is rated 5-stars by 247 sports and the 30th best player in the country for the class of 2018 by ESPN. The 6’8” forward holds offers from Kansas, UConn, Indiana, and was just offered by Louisville this week, according to 247 sports. King is a member of Sports U’s “fab five”, which includes Reid, Luther Muhammed, Jahvon Quinerly, and Atiba Taylor. Rutgers offered all five back in April, and they also hold group offers from Seton Hall and UConn. After Reid, having another member from Sports U visit campus before the school year begins is absolutely huge. You can watch highlights of King here.
As the fall approaches and the start of practice for the 2016-2017 season is roughly just six weeks away, Rutgers will continue to grind on the recruiting trail. So far, they have made more strides with local recruits than the previous coaching staff ever did in three years. Pikiell didn’t even complete his coaching staff until mid-April.
Now is the time for Pikiell to show Rutgers is headed in the right direction on the court, and progress is very possible with the schedule for this season. Rutgers enters the fall as the biggest team in the Big Ten, with five players on the roster standing at 6’9” or above. The rebuilding process for this program is significant, but all signs are pointing up as we head into Labor Day weekend.