With the news on Friday that 3-star point guard Mac McClung decommitted from Rutgers, the question now becomes who will the coaching staff find to fill the one open scholarship in the 2018 class? While losing the potential point guard of the future in McClung is a setback, it’s certainly not a reflection on the coaching staff. Regardless of the reason, which could involve his new found internet fame and possible renewed interest from other high majors, or even more simply, he wasn’t comfortable in this environment after growing up in a small mountain town in Virginia, it’s best for both McClung and Rutgers in the long run that he does what’s best for him now.
The one frustrating part of this decision is the timing. The fall signing period is November 8th through 15th. While head coach Steve Pikiell and the staff have been successful in finding quality recruits to sign late in the spring or summer the past two years, it’s not an ideal situation. However, Rutgers had still been actively recruiting the 2018 class in recent weeks and will just need to ramp up their efforts now. If there is one thing we have learned on the recruiting trail in Pikiell’s tenure so far, it’s that the staff are well organized and have backup plans for any scenario.
In terms of how the staff chose to fill the remaining scholarship, I don’t think they will focus only on point guards. The fact is Rutgers needs to improve the talent level and depth on the entire roster at every position. While it is important to find their point guard of the future, depending on the options still available, it might make more sense for Rutgers to make that a priority in the 2019 class instead.
The backcourt for the 2018-2019 season looks to have true point guard Souf Mensah, combo guard Geo Baker, and shooting guards Peter Kiss and Montez Mathis. In addition, Corey Sanders could return for his senior season also. On the flip side, Rutgers knows for sure they will lose Candido Sa and Deshawn Freeman next season. Replacing the offensive and rebounding production of Freeman will not be easy to do. Eugene Omoruyi could be the answer long term, but he isn’t as polished on the offensive end right now. Of course, incoming freshmen Mamadou Doucoure and Myles Johnson will hopefully take steps forward in their sophomore seasons, but even if they do, Rutgers still needs to add depth to the frontcourt. The point is the staff will likely look to sign the best player available, regardless of position.
Two recruits that Rutgers was pursuing and hosted on campus this past summer just announced their own decisions this week.
4-star guard Jalen Carey committed to Syracuse on Wednesday. Once Rutgers landed McClung and 4-star guard Montez Mathis, they stopped recruiting Carey. While Rutgers was surprisingly included in his final list earlier this summer, I don’t think they had a very good chance of ultimately landing him, whether they had continued to pursue him or not.
The other is 3-star big man Warren Washington, who visited Rutgers on Labor Day weekend. However, he visited Oregon State last weekend and committed to them on Thursday.
One player that I expect Rutgers to continue to pursue is JUCO forward Shaq Carter. He visited the program the last weekend of August and we profiled his background here. Multiple mid to high major programs have offered Carter and he has since visited Washington State, Xavier and Middle Tennessee State. An article by Eric Bacharach for the Daily News Journal from earlier this week indicated that Carter doesn’t have a leader between the four schools, he has no other visits planned, and he has no time frame for a decision.
One interesting note is that Carter’s head coach at Eastern Florida State, Jeremy Shulman, is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State. However, the Rutgers staff have visited Carter down in Florida in September and now with an open scholarship, they can put the full court press on in hopes of getting Carter to sign in November. He would be a great pickup and give Rutgers a true frontcourt scorer to add to the roster, which is definitely an area of need.
UPDATE: Shaq Carter committed to rutgers on Sunday night!
Another player from the 2018 class that Rutgers offered during the July live period was forward Chris Doherty. He is known for being a hard nosed, tough player and while he hasn’t garnered a lot of high major interest, Rutgers has always wisely targeted under the radar players on the New England prep circuit since Pikiell’s arrival. He has potential and would help bring an edge to the program.
Rutgers is also doing a great job honing in on the 2019 class as well, with 4-star guard Paul Mulcahy visiting last weekend, one of several trips to the banks that he has made in recent weeks. The 6’4” Gill St. Bernard recruit can play either guard position and could be a solution at the point for Rutgers in the future. The staff have also done a great job in being in the thick of things recruiting wise with additional 4-star targets in guard Khalif Battle, wing Aundre Hyatt, and forward Eric Dixon.
How Rutgers ultimately proceeds in filling the one remaining scholarship remains to be seen, but they have plenty of options in doing so. It’s never ideal to see a recruit decommit from the program, but it’s also a reality of how recruiting works nowadays. The staff have been resourceful since their arrival and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue. Mathis and Harper are expected to sign in November. The outlook is still very positive and it’s now exciting to consider who Rutgers will find to fill the final scholarship. Whether its another guard or a frontcourt player, the odds of them bringing in a player to help this program continue to move forward in the rebuilding process remains high.