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Rutgers Basketball Recruiting Updates: A New Target Emerges, As A Few Others Drop Off

With one open scholarship as of now for next season, get caught up on the latest.

Rutgers v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It’s been a little over a week since the live recruiting period began and Rutgers has been busy from the start. We covered their in-home visit with 3-star wing Isaiah Kelly here. That post also included the scheduled visit to campus for St. Benedict’s shooting guard Matthieu Cotton, which took place last Friday. Both Kelly and Cotton are top 150 recruits in the class of 2018.

Head coach Steve Pikiell and the staff continue to balance their time between multiple classes and still have one open scholarship for next season. One recent target was 4-star point guard Blake Harris, who was scheduled to visit Rutgers next weekend, committed to Missouri during his visit last weekend.

.The one time Washington commit had many suitors after receiving his release and ultimately chose Mizzou over Michigan State, UConn, NC State and Rutgers.

The staff hasn’t wasted any time though, as a new target has emerged.

Kiss recently visited Seton Hall and according to Adam Zagoria, he is also considering Rhode Island, in addition to Auburn and Rutgers. He averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds 2.8 assists, and 1.2 steals as a freshman last season at Quinnipiac, a team that finished in 8th place in the MAAC. Long time coach and former UConn assistant Tom Moore was fired after the season and replaced by former Villanova assistant Baker Dunleavy. Another top player from Quinnipiac, Mikey Dixon, recently announced he was transferring to St. John’s. It’s possible the Johnnies are also pursuing Kiss and the sports editor of the Quinnipiac student paper mentioned them as a possibility earlier this week.

Kiss was lightly recruited out of high school, but his stock has risen significantly after a solid freshman campaign, in which he was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team. However, Pikiell has known about Kiss for years, as he recruited him while coaching at Stony Brook. According to Verbal Commits, Kiss was offered by Stony Brook in July 2014, ahead of his junior year in high school. It’s possible that Kiss could have ended up playing for Pikiell at the America East school if he hadn’t left for Rutgers last March. Kiss committed to Quinnipiac about six weeks later.

The New York City native’s mentor, Derrik Riullano, told Adam Zagoria in this article that he was “a late bloomer and the sky’s the limit for him in the right program.” Kiss did impress last season pretty much from the start. Against national finalist Gonzaga in just his third collegiate game, Kiss scored 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field, while also grabbing 5 rebounds and swiping 2 steals. The next night, he posted 19 points versus Seton Hall behind a 7 of 11 shooting performance.

Still, a concern with the 6’5” shooting guard is that he shot just 36 for 130 for 27.7% from three-point range this past season. He did appear to wear down at the end of his freshman season, shooting a horrific 0 for 17 from behind the arc in his last four regular season games. Kiss did bounce back with a 3 for 7 effort from three-point range in his lone MAAC Tournament game. Regardless, he is an intriguing transfer candidate for Rutgers to be in the mix with. The fact that Pikiell has a relationship with Kiss already has to be a positive.

It begs the question, is he worth it? Kiss would have to sit out next season, but would have three seasons to play afterwards. The fact is Pikiell has to approach the rebuild from a long term perspective. If he thinks Kiss is the best available option at this moment, then he should sacrifice the short term of next season for the potential long term benefits. If Pikiell thinks Kiss can develop into a solid starter and be a key figure in the rebuilding of the program, it makes sense. Taking a player like Kiss, who would have a year to acclimate at Rutgers and bulk up for Big Ten play, could help a lot with the transition of a likely large class in 2018 the following season.

The influx of grad transfers has completely changed the transfer market. It has watered down the talent becoming available as grad transfers and it has increased the risk of sit-out transfers now leaving with one season of eligibility remaining. Taking a sit-out transfer who could potentially leave after only having played for one season significantly reduces their value. From that view, Kiss could be considered more reliable, in the sense that he has three years to play and has an established relationship with Pikiell. It will be interesting to see where Kiss ultimately ends up.

In terms of other updates, the April live recruiting period is very much a time when the staff are on the road visiting different coaches and programs, as well as players. Not a lot of new information has come out in the last week regarding players that Rutgers is targeting, but I know the staff has been busy traveling and making the rounds.

The transfer market moves fast and below are some updates on potential targets that I’ve mentioned previously here and here.

Geno Thorpe - The former Penn State guard who is now transferring from South Florida is reportedly visiting Pittsburgh and Seton Hall soon.

Nisre Zouzoua - Illinois, Virginia, NC State, Missouri and Rutgers have been reportedly in the mix. No recent updates or scheduled visits announced. He would be a sit-out transfer next season with two years of eligibility remaining.

Shakur Juiston - The JUCO star and Newark native is taking an official visit to Iowa State this weekend. Kansas and UNLV are also actively recruiting him. Juiston had previously named Rutgers in this top nine, but his decision will likely come down to those three schools just mentioned.

De’Quon Lake - The JUCO big man was scheduled to visit Rutgers this month, but committed to Arizona State on his visit in late March.

Terrence Samuel - The former Penn State and UConn point guard was a name I mentioned as intriguing, but he announced he was transferring to South Florida earlier this week.

David Collins - The class of 2017 shooting guard was being considered by Rutgers for a time, but nothing serious seems to have developed. He is on an official visit to South Florida this weekend and are consider to be the favorite to land him, according to 247 Sports.

Clifton Moore - The uber-talented big man in the class of 2017 asked for his release from his letter of intent with Indiana and it was reported Rutgers reached out to him immediately. However, new Hoosiers head coach Archie Miller has been working on Moore to stay. Adam Zagoria reported on Friday that Moore has until Monday to decide and is leanding towards staying at Indiana.

Cam Johnson - The Pittsburgh grad transfer with two years of eligibility has two dozen or so offers, including Kentucky. Rutgers assistant Brandin Knight coached Johnson at Pitt and they reportedly offered him. Per Corey Evans, Pikiell is scheduled to visit Johnson this weekend. Still, Rutgers landing him feels like a long shot

With this long list of players that could have potentially landed on the banks, only Zouzoua or Johnson seems to still be a possibility. However, I’ve heard nothing recent regarding him and Rutgers. The nature of the current transfer market is in a word, insane. The number of available transfers grows by the day, so Rutgers doesn’t need to make any rash decisions. Coach Pikiell seems driven to find the right fit for the program and not gamble on any quick fixes. Rutgers has had good fortune the past two seasons with grad transfers in Omari Grier (7.6 points, 41% from three-point range) and CJ Gettys (7.7 points & 5.2 rebounds) because they embraced the program.

With only one open scholarship remaining for next season, as Corey Sanders is expected to return, Pikiell and the staff to choose wisely. Remember, Rutgers didn’t land Gettys and current freshman Eugene Omoruyi until last August. While it’s unlikely the staff will wait that long to fill the scholarship in this recruiting cycle, patience is important in these matters. Just because names of prospects aren’t being mentioned daily in connection with Rutgers, it doesn’t mean the staff isn’t grinding away. They most certainly are and whether they find a shooter or a big man, a transfer or a sleeper from the class of 2017, it will be one more player that Pikiell adds to reshaping the roster in his own design.

Update 4:30 on 4/15:

Per a report, sophomore wing Jonathan Laurent is transferring from the program.

After a busy Saturday, get caught up on the latest recruiting update here.