The Rutgers men’s basketball program has ushered in September the same way they approached August, by hosting elite New Jersey recruits from the classes of 2018 & 2019. Last week, they hosted top recruits Jalen Carey and Justin Winston on Thursday, followed by Louis King of EYBL power Sports U on Friday. With Labor Day behind us and Rutgers classes beginning today, Steve Pikiell is hosting an intriguing guard who is a rising sophomore with a lot of athleticism.
Isaiah Wong, a class of 2019 guard from Notre Dame (NJ)/We R1 (DE), will go on an unofficial visit to Rutgers tomorrow.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) September 5, 2016
The 6’2” guard is only listed at 160 pounds, so he will need to bulk up, but his talent is starting to warrant high major interest. Wong played meaningful minutes as a freshman on the best team in Mercer County in Central Jersey. Notre Dame went 27-3 before falling in the State Sectional Semifinals to state power St. Joseph’s of Metuchen. His stock continues to rise this summer and scouts have raved about his game on twitter.
Upside. Upside. Upside. 2019 G Isaiah Wong sure has a ton of it. Standing out with his athleticism so far here at #FAA16— Future150.com (@Future150) August 4, 2016
Wong starred at a tournament with the Hoop Group in early August, where he won MVP for his class.
Wong also attended Syracuse Elite Camp in late August and was cited as a standout performer by hoops writer Ari Rosenfeld. He visited Temple last week and received an offer during his visit, as per Pat Lawless. Verbal Commits states Wong received an offer from St. Joseph’s in June as well. It’s possible Pikiell and Rutgers will offer Wong on his visit today. Again, the staff is doing a phenomenal job of getting talented in-state players on campus this summer.
UPDATE: 7:15 pm 9/6 Wong Receives Rutgers Offer
Isaiah Wong, a class of 2019 guard from Notre Dame (NJ), just picked up an offer from Rutgers.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) September 6, 2016
Here is video of Wong in action from earlier this spring and summer with his AAU team WE R1.
In other recruiting news, recent Rutgers visitors Carey, Winston, and their teammate Dejourn Cook are headed to the 6th borough today.
(side note/rant: The universe mocked the program last week for their tweet highlighting former UConn players who were coached by current Rutgers associate head coach Karl Hobbs, but no one has a problem with UConn marketing themselves as the 6th borough? One was factual, the other isn’t. Just so we are clear in my argument, New Brunswick is 36 miles outside NYC and Storrs, Connecticut is 143 miles away. They even put billboards up in the city promoting this too. If you made this story up, most sane people would think you are crazy, yet UConn owns it. Conference expansion has made them punch drunk I think. The national media and UConn fans that eviscerated Rutgers for trying to promote their program was insane, and yet the 6th borough gets a free pass? Sorry, I’ll stop digressing now and get back to recruiting.)
2018 PG Jalen Carey @Almightyjay_25 is visiting UConn today on an unofficial. Saw Rutgers & Seton Hall last week. Notre Dame soon too.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 6, 2016
Rutgers hosted the trio first, followed by Seton Hall the following day. The interest for these three is really picking up as the school year begins. Carey’s father told SNY’s Adam Zagoria that Rutgers plans to watch his son throughout this season and are making him a priority. Carey’s recruitment in particular will be interesting to watch, and hopefully Rutgers can be a legitimate contender for his services.
Another former conference foe is targeting players Rutgers has hosted this summer. St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin is planning to visit Roselle Catholic this week, per Zagoria.
Naz Reid visited Rutgers last month and is the crown jewel of a loaded 2018 class in New Jersey. It makes sense that Chris Mullin is targeting the 5-star recruit and bringing top recruiting assistant Matt Adbelmassih with him. Mullin had a falling out with friend and former top assistant Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, who was recently had the remainder of his contract bought out by St. John’s. Our friends at Rumble In The Garden cover his exit here. While it could be a matter of this simply not being the right fit, it is interesting to note that Slice left an assistant’s job at Kentucky to come to St. John’s as the associate head coach. His hiring was universally praised at the time, so it is a bit shocking to see him leave Mullin after just one season. This is another off tangent thought, but one that I think will be interesting to watch in the near future. Rutgers and Pikiell are making North Jersey and New York City much more of a priority in recruiting and will go head to head with Mullin moving forward.
Another development relating to Rutgers recruiting is that Roselle Catholic guard Nate Pierre-Louis picked up a recent offer from Georgia Tech. You may remember that 2017 point guard and top Rutgers target Jose Alvarado recently visited the Atlanta school as well. It’s likely new head coach Josh Pastner would only take one of them in his recruiting class, so hopefully Pierre-Louis falls in love with Georgia Tech. Alvarado last visited Rutgers in August before his trip to Tech. With one open scholarship for the 2017 recruiting cycle remaining, it seems Rutgers is still making Alvarado their main priority.
Now that the school year has begun and football season is underway, look for Rutgers Basketball to host recruits later this month at home games on campus. The Iowa game on September 24th could be a big visitor weekend for the program. Pikiell and the staff have done a fantastic job getting big names on campus this summer and hopefully it will continue through the coming months. And remember, it’s important to be hopeful, but realistic, regarding expectations for this season. Have faith that Pikiell and the staff have made major forward progress in less than six months on campus, and this season should be a lot more interesting than recent years.