With the current season winding down, Steve Pikiell and his staff continue to recruit for the future. Locally, the state playoffs are underway in high school, so the opportunity to watch players in high pressure environments is now. At the same time, Rutgers hosted a couple of New Jersey players last week, as the chance for them to experience the RAC in-season is wrapping up. Also, a lot of familiar names have been visiting Seton Hall, the Rutgers staff visits a couple of new targets, and I cover lots more here. Let’s dive in.
Last week, Rutgers hosted two intriguing prospects from local area high schools from the class of 2018 for the Michigan game, in which they almost pulled off the upset.
Rutgers will host Pope John (NJ) wing Samba Diallo & Roselle Catholic (NJ) center Majur Majak for their game vs. Michigan tonight.— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) February 22, 2017
Samba Diallo is a 6’7” wing from Pope John XXIII in Sparta, New Jersey. The 3-star recruit is ranked the 8th best player in his class in the state by 247 Sports. In my last recruiting update, we covered how Rutgers was pursuing the top seven players in the state from the class of 2018 in various degrees. Add Diallo to the list! It appears Rutgers has been tracking him most of this season, as New Jersey Advance Media’s Jeremy Schneider spotted assistant Brandin Knight with Diallo before Christmas.
Brandin Knight just talked to Pope John 4-star forward Samba Diallo. Again, things that weren’t happening last year. #NJhoops #KnightAndDay— Jeremy Schneider (@J_Schneider) December 18, 2016
Diallo was offered by St. Joseph’s in December and is talking to Temple, as well as Rutgers, according to 247 Sports. They list additional offers from Stony Brook, Iona, Monmouth, and VCU, among others, as well.
Steve Keller is the founder and operator of the New England Recruiting Report, the same site who ranked current Rutgers 2017 commit Geo Baker 12th in the New England region for his class. Keller had some positive things to say about Diallo back in late December.
4th game has Roselle Cath beating Pope John 71-58/Love 6'7 Jr wing Samba Diallo of Pope John/Long wing handles, shoots & passes/May be HM/— Steve Keller (@SteveKellerNRR) December 18, 2016
As Keller insinuates, Diallo’s offers thus far have been from mid-majors. Rutgers appears to be taking interest now and 247 Sports lists Virginia and West Virginia as others who have taken note of him. The athletic wing has led Pope John all season, who were the top team in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). They take on St. Peter’s tonight in the quarterfinals of the non-public A North division of the state playoffs.
Samba Diallo with the transition finish (via @overtime) https://t.co/Mfx8AFvrQH— Matt Bruining (@Matt_SoWavy) January 1, 2017
As for Majur Majak, he is a 7’1” center originally from the Sudan, but just transferred to Roselle Catholic in January from Village Christian Academy in California. He and Diallo are teammates with the AAU club the New York Jayhawks. Majuk visited Seton Hall for the Villanova game, which was a few days before he visited Rutgers for the Michigan game.
7'1" Majur Majak'18 of @rc_basketball & @NYJayhawks will be at Seton Hall vs Nova game tomorrow. Has offers from Rutgers & SHU #HALLin pic.twitter.com/o06PfqWruF— Andrew Slater (@ASlater247) February 17, 2017
He is extremely thin, listed at just 205 pounds, but he has made an immediate impact for state power Roselle Catholic, once he became eligible to play. In a recent game against the best public school in New Jersey in Linden, Majak had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. He has a tremendous wingspan and has the potential to be an imposing defender at the next level. Scout’s Josh Gershon had this to say about Majak back from December, when he was still playing in California.
2018 Village Christian center Majur Majak has good size, length and mobility. Plays hard and has a lot of value as rim protector.— Josh Gershon (@JoshGershon) December 21, 2016
According to 247 Sports, Majak previously held offers from Fresno State, Portland, and Nevada before moving to the east coast. Now, as 247’s Andrew Slater mentioned in the above tweet, he has picked up offers from Seton Hall and Rutgers. Due to his size and playing for Roselle Catholic, Majak will certainly see his profile grow in the coming months on the recruiting trail. It’s positive to see Rutgers getting him on campus so quickly since his arrival to the garden state.
Another player that has become a target for Pikiell and the staff is class of 2019 big man Charles Coleman from the Dexter School in Massachusetts, who they visited with yesterday.
Rutgers was in to see Dexter School (MA) 2019 big man Charles Coleman today.— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) March 1, 2017
S/O to @RutgersMBB coach @JayYoung_RU for coming to support our guys Jordan Mason & Charles Coleman today. @AdamFinkelstein #stillworking pic.twitter.com/duHQ3UgeN5— George Wright-Easy (@GwrightE) March 1, 2017
The New England Recruiting Report has Coleman ranked 10th in his class for the region and Mike Yagman from NERR had this to say about him after a tournament back in December.
“Meanwhile, Coleman has the highest ceiling of the three and could be a special prospect before it’s all said and done. He already boasts the necessary strength/length (7’4”) combo to become unstoppable on both ends of the court but his skillset is much deeper than the typical young big man. He is comfortable stepping out beyond the arch but still welcomes physicality in the post and works tirelessly around the basket. Coleman doesn’t lack discipline or work ethic, two qualities that will carry him as more responsibility is placed upon him offensively.”
You can’t teach size, as the saying goes, and it sounds like he is multi-skilled and versatile on the offensive end. While interest in the sophomore big man continues to grow, it’s encouraging to see Rutgers among those schools starting to recruit him. Coleman could become a highly coveted recruit who has his choice at high major programs.
Have received 4 high major calls in the last hour about our guys Charles Coleman & Jordan Mason. @HGSL_HoopGroup #HGSL— WrightWay Skills (@WrightWaySkills) February 17, 2017
Coleman’s teammate, Jordan Mason, is also a 2019 class forward and the New England Recruiting Report ranks him the 14th best prospect in the region. At the same recap from the tournament the Dexter School played in back in December, Yagman of NERR said “Mason can rack up points in a hurry and can stretch a defense.” After watching Rutgers this season, we know points rarely come from the wing players on the roster, so a player who can score like Mason is certainly a priority. Of course, the sophomore will have plenty of time to decide where he plays at the next level.
In terms of another player from the class of 2019 that Rutgers has tracked for awhile now, the recruitment of Gill St. Bernards guard Paul Mulcahy appears to be blowing up.
Syracuse, Ohio State and Maryland have started to show heavy interest in @paulmulcahy_3 of Gill St Bernards— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) February 23, 2017
Paul Mulcahy, a class of 2019 guard from Gill St. Bernard's (NJ), just picked up an offer from Seton Hall.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) February 21, 2017
Mulcahy recently spoke to Pat Lawless about his recruitment and had this to say about Rutgers:
“I like Coach Pikiell a lot and I like how appreciative he is of the Rutgers fan base,” he said. “He has a family oriented program at Rutgers and he is doing a good job rebuilding there. He is trying to get New Jersey talent to stay, which is cool. A lot of his coaches are point guard oriented so if I were to go there they would know how to develop me.”
While he mentions visiting Seton Hall for the Xavier game last week in the article, he also stated his interest in visiting the RAC for a game soon as well. No word on if he was at the Maryland game or will attend the final home contest of the season this Saturday against Illinois. For more information on Mulcahy, I covered him in detail here.
Speaking of Seton Hall, they have been hosting many of the top recruits in the class of 2018 from the area quite a bit lately. Their bid for a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament has certainly helped peak interest in their program. Adam Zagoria tweeted a who’s who list of New Jersey’s top players from the class of 2018 and beyond who attended the Hall’s final home game of the season this past Tuesday.
Recruits tonight at Seton Hall (1):— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 28, 2017
Seton Hall Recruits (2):— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 28, 2017
The majority of those names are also being pursued by Rutgers, but you have to credit the Hall for being able to have so many of them visit all at once. Winning certainly helps and Kevin Willard has the Pirates at 19-10 this season. While Rutgers has struggled in Big Ten play, it’s fair to worry that some of these top recruits are taking notice in a negative way. However, what isn’t helping Seton Hall has been their lack of fan support at home games this season.
At the nearly empty Prudential Center for Seton Hall-Georgetown. Another bad showing by Pirates fans. #shbb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) February 28, 2017
Seton Hall's fan base finished ninth in the Big East this year, just ahead of DePaul. https://t.co/bpatSEN0bv— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) February 28, 2017
After a recent home win against Xavier, Hall star Angel Delgado spoke to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press about the fans “who are not loyal” in this article here:
“There’s fans (who are) loyal and there’s fans (who are) not loyal,” he said. “I give credit to the people who came here today. People who didn’t come, that’s their problem. I don’t care about that. The people who came today, I’ve got to say, ‘thank you’ to them and their support. I’m going to be here playing hard for them.”
On the flip side, Rutgers fans have turned out in solid numbers for Big Ten play, despite the Scarlet Knights sitting with a 2-15 record in conference play. Drawing around 5K-6K, more than Seton Hall for the most part, should speak volumes about the fanbase’s optimism with coach Pikiell leading the program. In fact, the BTN announcers mentioned it during Tuesday’s loss to Maryland.
The announcers on BTN just credited the crowd and said how well Rutgers has drawn all season. # OneAgenda— On the Banks (@OTB_SBNation) March 1, 2017
This is a real positive and credit the loyalty of Rutgers fans who have shown up for this team, despite the losing streak. Let’s hope for a great turnout on Saturday for Senior Day and a well deserved send off for graduating players CJ Gettys and Khalil Batie. Remember, your passion for this program reflects highly to recruits! While it’s common for fans to tweet at recruits, I prefer seeing supporters packing the RAC and wearing Rutgers gear around the state instead. Call me old-fashioned, but supporting who we have speaks volumes to those the program is seeking for the future.
With coach Steve Pikiell’s first season at Rutgers almost complete, recruiting will become the major focus in the coming weeks. Look for the staff to be highly visible during the New Jersey State Tournament, as they prepare for the April live recruiting period on the AAU circuit, where their focus will be on 2018 & 2019 recruits. With no open scholarships available for next season as of now, another thing to watch for is any potential transfers from the current roster. While not much has been said about who the staff is keeping an eye on with remaining 2017 targets, there should be no doubt they have contingency plans ready. Once the season is over after the Big Ten Tournament next week, I plan to have more regular recruiting updates. Stay tuned.
Rutgers continues to recruit 2019 guard Isaiah Wong from Notre Dame in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, who they offered previously.......Class of 2020 rising star Jabri Abdur-Rahim, son of former Cal & NBA star Sharif Abdur-Rahim, now claims an offer from Rutgers and is playing at Seton Hall Prep & AAU club the PSA Cardinals.....2018 guard Jalen Carey still hears from Rutgers often.