With the next live recruiting period set to begin on July 12th, the next few weeks are critical for the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff. The class of 2018 has always been viewed as the pivotal group for head coach Steve Pikiell in the early stages of rebuilding the program. This week several key developments have occurred, so let’s get caught up on the latest.
It was announced yesterday that Naz Reid cut Rutgers from his list of schools that he is considering. There were rumblings previously that the consensus 5-star recruit from Roselle Catholic was considering staying local and that Rutgers was his top choice in that regard. That turned out not to be the case, as the only local school remaining in Reid’s top seven is Seton Hall. There has also been the sentiment for awhile that if Kentucky does offer Reid, he will be headed to the Bluegrass state. No matter where he ends up, the one positive is that the Rutgers staff can now move on and focus on other recruits still in play. Reid also cut UConn and North Carolina from consideration.
There is little doubt that Mathis, a consensus 4-star shooting guard, is the top prospect on the board for Rutgers in the class of 2018. He visited campus in May after Pikiell had an in-home visit with Mathis back in April. The staff have also watched Mathis often since offering him back in December. He had a noteworthy performance at the Adidas Uprising event during the April live recruiting period and picked up several high major offers afterwards.
On Monday, Mathis cut the list of schools that he is considering to eight and Rutgers is still firmly in the mix. While Kansas is on the list, they have not offered yet and likely consider Mathis a backup plan. Still, the potential for one of college basketball bluebloods to swoop in on a top target of Rutgers is a possibility yet again. UConn appears to be working hard on him as well, with Mathis visiting there back in May. I also wouldn’t discount Western Kentucky as a sleeper in his recruitment. Head coach Rick Stansbury has reeled in a notable 2017 recruiting class and is building momentum at the traditionally strong mid-major program. Even so, Rutgers has stayed on Mathis throughout and are hoping he ultimately lands on the banks.
Personally, I think Rutgers has a great chance with Mathis. However, if he fails to decide by the fall and wants to extend his recruitment through his senior season, I think their chances will fall off considerably. For now, let’s hope that Mathis joins Mamadou Doucoure, the only commit for the 2018 as of now, soon enough. He would be the centerpiece of the class if he ultimately chooses Rutgers.
Policelli is a 3-star wing who is rated the 7th best recruit in New York state by 247 Sports and according to them, he holds offers from Washington, George Washington, VCU, Rhode Island, UMASS, and Iona, among others. His high school junior season in upstate New York was cut short due to a knee injury. He has garnered interest from Syracuse and took an unofficial visit there during the season. It was an early May when Rutgers offered the talented prospect and getting him on campus this Friday is good news. He certainly plays a position of need for the program and his athleticism would be a welcomed addition.
Samba Diallo, a class of 2018 SF playing for the NY Jayhawks/Pope John XXIII (NJ), will go on an unofficial visit to Seton Hall tomorrow.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) June 14, 2017
Policelli’s AAU teammate on the NY Jayhawks, Samba Diallo, is visiting rival Seton Hall today. Rutgers offered Diallo and Policelli at the same time back in May. The 6’7” wing is rated the 9th best player in what is a loaded class of 2018 in New Jersey by 247 Sports. Hopefully, Rutgers can convince him to visit along with Policelli as well.
The 6’8” wing from South Carolina recently cut his list to eight schools and Rutgers was one of a few high major programs included, as well as Arizona State, Georgetown, Nebraska and Miami. He received his offer from Rutgers in late May after a strong junior season in which he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. Nichols was named a Class 5A All-State performer and saw his recruitment pickup this spring. It’s likely Rutgers will try and get him on campus for a visit soon.
The gritty point guard from Virginia visited Rutgers on Monday and immediately picked up an offer from coach Pikiell. He is a tough floor general who thrives on attacking the rim and is an intriguing prospect in the class of 2018. His recruitment has picked up this spring as well and credit the coaching staff for getting him on campus before the July live period. While he isn’t as highly rated as other point guard targets Rutgers has offered, McClung could end up being the best fit. It will be interesting to see how much the staff track him moving forward.
2018 Scholarship Review
With 4-star big man Mamadou Doucoure committed to Rutgers, at least two more scholarships remain available for the class of 2018. Seniors Deshawn Freeman, Mike Williams, and Candido Sa are set to depart following this coming season. However, more scholarships could become available if Corey Sanders makes the plunge to the pros. Also, there is still one open scholarship for next season and if it is filled with a graduate transfer, the spot would be available for 2018 as well. Of course, additional roster spots could become available after next season if players decide to transfer out of the program. The staff have been very active recruiting this class and are considering multiple players at every position, so if more spots open, they’ll be ready.
Speaking of the one spot still open for next season, UConn transfer Vance Jackson is still considering schools after his Rutgers visit from early May. He also visited Washington and New Mexico. One surprise was that he announced this week that he cancelled his scheduled visit to Baylor and will check out TCU instead. I don’t think Rutgers has a very good chance of landing Jackson, but they are still in play. While he would need to sit out next season, his talent would be a major addition to the program. What is likely is that the staff have other options they are considering to fill the remaining spot, including graduate transfer and JUCO candidates.
Expect the coaching staff to continue to pound the recruiting trail and who they watch during the July live period will tell us a lot about which players they are prioritizing. The live period begins July 12th.