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More Rutgers Basketball Recruiting Updates, Including New Offers & Visits

With the departure of Jonathan Laurent, a second scholarship is now open for next season.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Northwestern vs Rutgers Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday morning, I posted a recruiting update for the Rutgers men’s basketball program, highlighted by the upcoming scheduled visit by Quinnipiac sit-out transfer Peter Kiss. That began what turned out to be a very busy Saturday for the program. Here is a recap of all the new developments from this weekend.

A talented shooting guard from the class of 2018 visited campus yesterday, first reported by Andrew Slater of 247 Sports.

Minutes after the Slater’s tweet, Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops reported that Tabbs was offered by Rutgers while on his visit.

The 6’3” Tabbs plays at St. Mary’s Ryken in Maryland and has been linked the most to Penn State during his recruitment so far. 247 Sports state his other offers include George Washington, Towson, and James Madison, with interest from George Mason, Virginia Tech and Georgetown. He is rated a 3-star recruit by 247 Sports and a 4-star recruit by ESPN. It’s a positive step that coach Pikiell and the staff were able to get Tabbs on campus in the spring. For a player with his rankings, Tabbs is the type of under-recruited prospect that Rutgers should be targeting. Here are highlights from his junior season against Maryland powerhouse Dematha high school.

Soon after the news on Tabbs, it was announced by the AAU program of North Carolina point guard Kody Shubert that he is planning to visit Rutgers in the coming week.

Team Charlotte is on the Under Armour AAU circuit and they will be playing in a tournament in New York City next weekend. Shubert plays for Lincoln Charter high school, where he led them to a state championship this past season. Andrew Slater of 247 Sports highlighted ten top performers from the highly competitive Phenom Hoops Joe Miller Invitational last December and he included Shubert on his list. Here is what Slater had to say about the true point guard:

“A skilled and exciting point guard, the 5'10" Shubert is a three-level scorer, who is most effective when penetrating, where he looks to dribble-dish-off or finish through contact. A high energy guard from Lincoln Charter in North Carolina, Shubert gives maximum effort and uses his intelligence to overcome any lateral quickness disadvantage, while trying to defend on the perimeter. A 4.3 GPA student, the 2018 guard has good court vision and generally looks to make the most efficient pass, rather than simply looking for flashiness. Shubert has been offered by South Florida, St. Mary's, American, Hampton, and Houston Baptist as well as interest from Yale, Wake Forest, and William & Mary.”

He will need to develop physically to survive the rigors of the Big Ten, but Shubert seems like a crafty floor general. Here is a highlight tape featuring Shubert from this past year.

Later in the afternoon, it was announced by Verbal Commits that sophomore wing Jonathan Laurent was transferring from Rutgers. I wrote about his departure here. Laurent’s exit shouldn’t be a major surprise, as the forward saw his playing time almost cut in half from his freshman season under former head coach Eddie Jordan, who brought him to the banks. With the system changing under current head coach Steve Pikiell and his role being different, it makes sense Laurent would decide to leave.

This move now gives Pikiell and the staff two open scholarships for next season, assuming Corey Sanders does ultimately return, which is the general feeling within the program. The needs are many, but having two open spots gives Rutgers the potential to add both a big man in the low post and a wing shooter. Now that Laurent has left, Issa Thiam is the only true wing player on the current roster. While targeting a sit-out transfer like Kiss makes sense if the staff feel he could ultimately start during his three years of eligibility that remain, adding an impact grad transfer for next season is crucial. Although Laurent’s production was limited this past season, they need a top of the rotation type player who can help make up for the losses of CJ Gettys, Nigel Johnson, and Laurent.

While as late as yesterday, I was skeptical that Rutgers had much of a chance with one of the top grad transfers on the market in former Pittsburgh wing Cam Johnson. The competition is simply fierce, with over 20 high major offers, including Kentucky, since he announced he was transferring. There are two reasons for that: 1) Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 33 minutes per game last season, while shooting 45% from the field, 42% from three-point range, and 81% from the free throw line 2) He is graduating Pitt in three years and will have two years of eligibility remaining and will not have to sit-out. He took a medical redshirt during the 2014-2015 season.

In what was a busy day for Rutgers basketball recruiting news, the best was saved for last, as Corey Evans of Rivals announced on Twitter that Pikiell was one of a few coaches to have a scheduled in-home visit this with Johnson this weekend.

As you can see from the other coaches and programs mentioned, the competition is very steep. When SB Nation’s Kentucky blog, A Sea Of Blue, writes about what a huge addition Johnson would be, there is no denying what an upset it would be for Rutgers to land a player of this caliber.

The one obvious connection to Johnson from a Rutgers perspective is that current assistant coach Brandin Knight was at Pitt for Johnson’s first two seasons there. It’s likely the biggest reason Rutgers is even at the table at the moment. But still, the fact is Johnson is willing to listen, due to the fact that he scheduled an in-home visit. Perhaps the allure of playing in the NYC market on a team that he could be the featured star, whether Sanders returns or not, could be another positive factor he is considering.

Realistically, it’s going to be tough to land Johnson, but at least Rutgers is in the mix. Another intriguing name that I’ve heard mentioned from several sources is Princeton grad transfer Hans Brase. The 6’9” forward averaged over 11 points per game as both a sophomore and junior, before suffering torn ACL injuries on his knee, twice in less than two years. Despite his recent setbacks, Brase would be a great veteran presence to add, who could help the program both on and off the court. Seton Hall and Rutgers are said to have expressed interest, but no word on how high of a priority the staff has made him. For updates on other grad transfers that have been linked to Rutgers over the past month, click here.

With two open scholarships now open for next season, Pikiell and the staff have more opportunity to reshape the roster more quickly than anticipated. The 2018 class is still a pivotal one, but the need to add 1-2 impact players for next season is even greater now. It shouldn’t be surprising that a couple of players not recruited by Pikiell have transferred out of the program. According to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press in this article, “more end-of-bench departures seem likely.” This isn’t a reason to panic.

The sooner that Pikiell and the staff can bring their own players into the program, the better. The need to upgrade the talent on the roster and find players who fit Pikiell’s style of play is a must. It’s obviously more difficult to have to fill multiple spots this late in the 2017 recruiting cycle, but the staff has been relentless on the trail since their arrival last year. One of the best qualities under Pikiell at Rutgers has been his preparation reHarding every aspect of the program. The reality is the team wasn’t going to be drastically better next season if the roster remained intact, so the opportunity to reshape it with two new players now is a positive. Stay tuned, as the offseason is picking up steam on the banks.