High school basketball is heating up, as the end of the regular season is rapidly approaching and there were several local showcases this past weekend which featured many targets for Rutgers basketball. The staff hit the recruiting trail hard and have made several new offers recently. Also, two current commits had big games this weekend as well. Let’s dive in.
Geo Baker & Mamadou Doucoure
Last week, I wrote in-depth on Baker and where he stands in the latest rankings from the New England Recruiting Report. He currently ranks as the 4th best recruit in New Hampshire and 12th best recruit in New England. Geo continues to have a strong senior season and here are highlights from a game this past weekend. He is the first player featured in the video.
Mamadou Doucoure, the 4-star center from New York who committed to Rutgers in late December, had a big game this past weekend at the Metro Classic. The 2018 big man starred for Our Savior New American School in a loss to Gill St. Bernard’s. Adam Zagoria was there and spoke positively on Doucoure.
2018 Rutgers commit Mamadou Doucoure is a big physical bruiser. But also flashed a little post jumper. pic.twitter.com/daHXZysVl7— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 11, 2017
Future Rutgers big man had 12 points, 17 Rebs and 5 blocks in the loss https://t.co/a7rZclPx5u— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 12, 2017
Yes, thoughts of a rich man’s Rashod Kent flash through my mind when I see that stat line. Rutgers desperately needs his toughness and physical style of play on the court and he will be a great addition for the program. I previously wrote a full profile on Doucoure here.
6'11 2019 Qudus Wahab offered by Rutgers University pic.twitter.com/JDNZ3OXGbH— Duval Simmonds (@DuvalSimmonds) February 11, 2017
The 4-star center from the class of 2019 was at the RAC on Saturday for the Minnesota game and received an offer from the staff. He is a big presence in the paint and has already established a reputation as a strong rim enforcer on the defensive end. According to 247 Sports, Wahab also holds offers from Virginia Tech and Clemson. It’s only a matter of time before his recruitment blows up and it’s great to see Rutgers get in the mix early for the big man from Virginia. It’s also a great sign that Wahab’s AAU coach who accompanied him on the visit, Duval Simmonds, tweeted out positive words regarding the experience. Simmonds played his college career at St. Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 in the late nineties.
Not only is this great to hear regarding Wahab’s visit, but for someone with Simmonds background speaking positively about the program, it can only help Pikiell and the staff in their efforts to change perception on the recruiting trail.
Junub Char, a class of 2018 guard from Blair Academy (NJ), has picked up an offer from Rutgers.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) February 2, 2017
Earlier this month, the 6’4” combo guard from Blair Academy was offered by Rutgers. He picked up offers in the past few months from VCU and St. Louis as well, according to 247 Sports. The class of 2018 recruit is a bit raw, but has a lot of potential and is explosive near the rim. He is a native of Nebraska, but preps at Blair in Blairstown, New Jersey.
Valdir Manuel, a class of 2018 PF from The Patrick School (NJ), just picked up an offer from Rutgers, per a source.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) January 31, 2017
The 4-star forward from the Patrick School is currently ranked by 247 Sports as the 6th best prospect in New Jersey for the class of 2018. They list Seton Hall, Temple, and DePaul as his other offers at the moment. It’s likely that list will multiply quickly during the upcoming April live recruiting period. He recently visited Seton Hall for the Butler game, so hopefully Rutgers can get him to the RAC before the season ends.
A Name Of Interest
Fordham, LUI, and Rutgers were all in attendance for 2017 David Collins at @rc_basketball— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 5, 2017
Collins a 6’3 shooting guard in the class of 2017 from the First Love Christian Academy in Washington, Pennsylvania. According to Adam Zagoria’s tweet above, Rutgers watched him play just over a week ago. He just was at West Virginia on a recruiting visit and other schools were in attendance watching him play this past weekend as well.
'17 G David Collins was seen by Maryland, UConn, Fordham, Robert Morris, SEMO, Delaware, Quinnipiac, Rice, St Bonaventure & Toledo tonight.— RHoops247 (@RHoopsRecruits) February 13, 2017
It appears his recruitment is heating up as his senior season is winding down. Technically, Rutgers doesn’t have an open scholarship after it was reported that Souf Mensah committed earlier this winter. However, it’s a positive sign to see the staff doing their due diligence in pursuing recruits of interest in the class of 2017, as scholarships could open after the season is over. The fact that they are looking for a shooter should be the least surprising thing I write in this article. No word of an offer as of now, but he is a name worth keeping an eye on.
Key Targets In Future Classes
Speaking of shooters, Paul Mulcahy is emerging as a big time recruit in the class of 2019. The Gill St. Bernard’s combo guard had a big day Saturday in helping his school beat Rutgers commit Mamadou Doucoure and Our Savior New American. Mulcahy visited campus back in the fall for MidKnight Madness and it appears Rutgers is pursuing him hard now.
2019 @paulmulcahy_3 said Rutgers wants him and other young Jersey guys to stay home. Story later.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 12, 2017
Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell watched him play yesterday as well.
Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell watching Linden now Oak Hill vs Gill St Bernards next— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) February 12, 2017
In this article from Rivals, they speculate that Rutgers could be the frontrunner for Mulcahy if they continue to make him a priority. Here is what Mulcahy told Rivals:
“I like how Coach Pikiell is on this rebuilding thing and wants to keep all of the Jersey kids to stay. I love how he thinks about the future.”
That is more great feedback from a local recruit who is likely to see his profile continue to rise this summer. Rivals mentions Boston College, Virginia Tech, and SMU as the other schools pursuing him the most right now.
If you follow our Rutgers basketball coverage regularly, you know that Naz Reid has been a top target for Pikiell since he took over the program in April. I have written about Reid at length, who has visited campus multiple times since last summer. In my last recruiting update, I highlighted Reid’s recent comments on how the Rutgers staff contacts him everyday. However, the pessimism among fans in having a legitimate shot with Reid is warranted based on so many top New Jersey stars flirting with Rutgers in the past, only to leave for a college basketball blue blood. This tweet last night from Adam Zagoria certainly didn’t help dispel that fear.
Naz Reid said he'd love a Kentucky offer. Went off tonight in front of Calipari and Tony Barbee. https://t.co/ytWjNgqjMj— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 13, 2017
This was after Reid’s monster performance yesterday at the Prime Time Shootout, where he scored 36 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
Rutgers was there as well and continue to watch Reid at every opportunity, including a recent game whereassistants from Virginia and Villanova two weekends ago.
While the general feeling among local recruiting circles is that Rutgers has a real chance to land Reid, the more the current powers of college basketball pursue him, the harder it will be. And make no mistake, Reid is a top 10 player in the class of 2018 and if Kentucky does offer, he will essentially be able to pick wherever he wants to play at the collegiate level. The good news is Reid did mention Rutgers among his top schools in speaking with Adam Zagoria yesterday in this article. There is only one thing we know for sure and that is Pikiell is relentlessly pursuing him. To be continued...
Carey is listed as the 5th best prospect in New Jersey in the class of 2018 (Reid is #1) and Rutgers is recruiting the dynamic point guard. He had a huge game for Immaculate Conception yesterday in a loss to Reid and Roselle Catholic. The Rutgers staff was represented, but they have been facing what appears to be an uphill battle to land his services. UConn and Seton Hall have long been linked as favorites and Adam Zagoria’s report reconfirms that fact.
2018 PG Jalen Carey went for 37 points, 5 assists and 8 Rebs in the loss to @rc_basketball.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 13, 2017
Dad says UConn & Seton Hall working hardest.
Jalen Carey has 25 with 5 3's as Immaculate leads @rc_basketball 44-30 at the half. Schools here:— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 12, 2017
Even so, Pikiell and Rutgers being present on the recruiting trail is so important to the future of the program. We have talked about progress on the court this season, and it has been significant, but the efforts of the current staff on the recruiting trail has truly been “knight and day” from the past regime.
The Rutgers staff offered Mathis back in December, which I covered here, and continue to pursue the ultra-athletic 2018 guard.
Rutgers assistant Brandin Knight visited John Carroll (MD) tonight for 2018 4⭐️ guard Montez Mathis, per @TheTeamBBC. Big Rutgers target.— RHoops247 (@RHoopsRecruits) January 26, 2017
Mathis is rated 4-stars by 247 Sports, but rates as a 3-star in their overall composite rankings. Either way, Mathis is a high flying shooting guard that would fit Rutgers style of running in transition and playing high pressure defense. According to Corey Evans, a recruiting analyst with Rivals, Mathis received some high profile visits this past Friday, in addition to Rutgers.
Virginia, Maryland and Rutgers were in last night for top-100 2018 John Carroll guards Immanuel Quickley & Montez Mathis— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) February 11, 2017
One criticism of the past regime and in college basketball recruiting in general, was how schools sometimes make offers, but do little followup on certain prospects. That has not been the case with Pikiell as head coach and Rutgers continues to make the Maryland product Mathis a priority.
6'6" 4 Kahlil Whitney'19 saids St.John's & Rutgers are making him a priority. pic.twitter.com/WhcMWGYjWK— Julius Kim (@JKim97) January 30, 2017
Rutgers offered the Chicago native who transferred to Roselle Catholic back in September, which I covered here. Pikiell has a great relationship with head coach Dave Boff, who coached former Stony Brook legend Jamaal Werney and current Rutgers freshman Matt Bullock. Kahlil is the son of Kelly, the former Seton Hall player from the early 2000’s. Whitney visited Rutgers for the Michigan football game last October and appears to be a top target for Pikiell in the class of 2019. He is listed as the 4th best recruit in New Jersey for his class by 247 Sports, which features the Ranney School duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, ranked as the top two players. Pikiell also watched them this past weekend, according to this article from Adam Zagoria.
The Sleeper - Tavon Jones
Linden is again the top public school team in New Jersey and ranked the #2 team in the state in today’s Top 20 poll by NJ Advance Media. They have already beaten prep power Roselle Catholic twice this season. While it doesn’t appear Rutgers has offered Jones yet, he has been on their radar since last summer. He put together a 19 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 5 steal performance yesterday in a win over Plainfield at the Prime Time Shootout, which Pikiell was present for.
Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell watching Linden now Oak Hill vs Gill St Bernards next— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) February 12, 2017
The 2018 guard is now rated a 3-star prospect by 247 Sports, a 4-star prospect by ESPN and has had a phenomenal junior season. His offer list is relatively small, with 247 Sports listing only Seton Hall and St. Joseph’s so far. However, Rutgers appears to be tracking Jones closely and he seems like the type of hard nosed, aggressive player that Pikiell covets. His coach, Phil Colicchio, is one of the best high school coaches in the area and has sung Jones’ praises for a long time. Jones now ranks as the 7th best prospect in New Jersey in the 247 composite rankings. His recruitment this summer will certainly be an interesting one to watch.
What It All Means
Rutgers and coach Pikiell are literally everywhere these days and as you can tell from this article, their sightings are documented often on twitter. Their relentlessness is an absolute must, as Rutgers has long been unsuccessful in recruiting the top players in New Jersey. Their credibility has only improved this winter within the state, as Rutgers has been vastly improved on the court this season. The fact that Pikiell and his staff are popping up at countless local gyms is something that is critical to their future success as well. The staff is well organized and they grind, similar to how they prepare and expect their team to play.
The Hoop Group is a well respected organization in the state that holds many tournaments and showcases throughout the AAU cycles. In a recent add for an upcoming event, guess who showed up on marketing poster?
You have to love that type of press for a program that has been a laughingstock in local recruiting circles in recent years, if we are being honest. While it’s possible Pikiell and the staff are keeping options warm for the 2017 class, just in case a roster spot opens after the season, the real push is for the 2018 class. With as many as five potential scholarships being available, Pikiell has a tremendous opportunity in shaping his program with a statement class. If you look at the list of top players in the state for that class by 247 Sports, Rutgers is legitimately recruiting the top seven, who are listed here in order: Naz Reid, Louis King, Jahvon Quinerly, Luther Muhammad, Jalen Carey, Vladir Manuel, and Tavon Jones. With Mamadou Doucoure already in the fold and committed, Rutgers has a great chance to make this a special, program changing class.
There is a long road ahead for sure, but there is no denying that Pikiell and the Rutgers staff have been impressive in their efforts on the recruiting trail since taking over the program. How the 2018 recruiting class shapes up will go a long way in determining the ceiling for Rutgers basketball in the near future. Head coach Steve Pikiell has changed a lot of opinions on the program in a very short time. It’s fair to hope that with more time and influence on the current roster, the team will only improve. Although history will say Rutgers has little chance in landing an impact class with top local recruits in the 2018 recruiting cycle, I would say Pikiell has positioned his program in the best way possible to do just that. As the great Tom Petty sings, “the waiting is the hardest part.”