If you are missing basketball, specifically of the collegiate variety, the three week stretch that began this past Wednesday has included plenty of action already. The best players in future classes are on full display and no surprise, the Rutgers coaching staff has been active in watching some of their top targets. There are many events that took place all over the country during this past week. The Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia through the Nike EYBL circuit and the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, South Carolina were two of the biggest events. The Under Armour Association is also hosted their finals in Atlanta, Georgia, but there were were many others as well. Here I review all that has been reported regarding Rutgers and certain targets on the recruiting trail, as well as new offers, highlights and assessments of how certain prospects peformed.
Day 1 - July 12th
Let’s just say get used to seeing Jalen Carey’s name appear in this report, as the 4-star guard has received a lot of attention since the EYBL Peach Jam began. Head coach Steve Pikiell and assistant Brandin Knight have been front and center to watch the versatile playmaker in action throughout the past few days. The NJ Playaz, Carey’s team, also has other recruits of interest for the staff, including 2019 targets Paul Mulcahy and Justin Winston. Of course, Carey is the most highly regarded prospect on NJ Playaz and gets the most attention from the media covering the event as well.
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and Brandin Knight are starting the day watching 2018 PG @yungswae5 Jalen Carey— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 12, 2017
More on Carey’s recruitment and what other schools made their presence known when he was on the court in a bit.
Pikiell and Knight then watched another top target in the class of 2018, 4-star wing Isaiah Mucius, who visited Rutgers in March, as well as his PSA Cardinals teammate and current 4-star commit Mamadou Doucoure.
Rutgers offered Mucius in December and Doucoure has publicly stated he is working hard to get him to join him in Piscataway. Mucius plays high school ball for powerhouse prep team Brewster Academy, the same New England school as current walk-on Aaren Smith, who I profiled here, along with the rest of the non-scholarship players on the Rutgers roster. Wake Forest, Xavier, and UConn are recruiting Mucius hard as well.
Best I've seen Isaiah Mucius play all season. Active, explosive & productive. Give Cole Anthony a wingman like that & @PSACardinals is TOUGH— Mike Yagmin (@MikeYagmiNERR) July 13, 2017
Another event that began on Wednesday was the Hoop Group’s Elite Session 1 at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. Rutgers assistant coach Jay Young was there and was included in a picture below.
It’s likely the top player of interest he was there to watch was 4-star wing Ismael Massoud, who just visited Rutgers in late June. Massoud also plays on the New England Prep circuit for the MacDuffie School, but is from the Bronx. Watch his showcase his offensive game in the highlights below. My favorite part is at the very end of the video.
I love seeing Young grinding it out at a lesser profile event, but making his presence well known to Massoud. It does appear they are making him a priority target in the class of 2019. Pikiell loves big guards and at 6’8”, Massoud has the handle and shooting ability to play the 2 or the 3 spot at the next level. Minnesota, who have recruited New York City players hard under head coach Richard Pitino, offered him back in June, two months after Rutgers did. He is a top 100 recruit in his class and one of the best players in New England, so expect his offer list to grow during the July live period.
Another player that Young appears to have watched, based on this tweet below, was Adrien Nunez.
Nunez isn’t highly rated, but plays for Bishop Loughlin in New York City. He was mentioned in this article for hitting a couple of three-pointers in the corner against city power Molloy back in January. The 6’5” guard is known for his shooting and had a solid group of schools watching him this week, mentioned above in the tweet, at the Hoop Group event. He is listed as a class of 2017 prospect, but it’s possible he may go to prep school next year to improve his stock. I can’t confirm that, just speculating, as it’s hard to find too much info on him. Here is an article on him from December, citing his frustration in not yet receiving a DI offer. Regardless, Young checked him out, as did Providence, so who knows what may develop for Nunez.
Day 2 - July 13th
On Thursday, there was plenty of action reported on, you guessed it, 4-star guard Jalen Carey. Coach Pikiell and assistant Brandin Knight were back to watch him again, but this time there was more competition observing.
Rutgers also here for Carey with Pikiell and Brandin. https://t.co/WQIhXn7yWL— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 13, 2017
2018 PG Jalen Carey has drawn quite a crew here including Jim Boeheim, Kevin Ollie, Steve Pikiell and more. @yungswae5— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 13, 2017
Oregon, Florida, Seton Hall also watching Carey. Popular guy today. https://t.co/qTrM9Qo9sz— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 13, 2017
Syracuse rolling three deep is a major sign that head coach Jim Boeheim is making Carey a major priority for the Orangemen. Carey did not disappoint on the court in front of many high programs.
Jalen Carey with 18 points (7-15 FG, 4-8 3PT) and 4 steals in front of the SU coaches this morning.— OttosGrove.com (@OttosGrove) July 13, 2017
Love that Jim, Red, and Griff are all there to watch Jalen Carey, clearly our top priority at any position right now.— OttosGrove.com (@OttosGrove) July 13, 2017
And there you have it, a Syracuse site citing Carey as the top priority in the entire class of 2018 for their program. We knew UConn was in hot pursuit, but having Syracuse firmly in the mix certainly ratchets things up a bit. In fact, Carey spoke to Adam Zagoria in this article and told him that Syracuse and UConn were pursuing him the hardest. That being said, Carey has visited Rutgers twice since May and Pikiell seems to be doing everything he can to get the talented guard’s attention.
And even if Carey doesn’t end up seriously considering Rutgers, Pikiell and Knight are getting good time in watching Paul Mulcahy, Justin Winston, and Al-Amir Dawes on NJ Playaz. All three are local targets in the class of 2019 and would be major talent additions to the roster. Also, Linden guard Tavon Jones is on the team as well and is a likely back up plan for Rutgers.
At the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale, you can see assistant coach Jay Young sitting on the baseline in this streaming video of the NY Jayhawks in action. Rutgers is targeting two Rivals Top 150 players on their roster in Frankie Policelli and Samba Diallo, with both having visited the program previously. Corey Evans of Rivals confirmed that Rutgers did watch the duo this weekend and other schools confirmed to have checked in on them were Virginia, Pitt, Seton Hall, Penn State, as well as UMass, Dayton, Rhode Island and George Washington.
Both players had had signature moments in the past few days. This photo of the 6’6” Diallo was impressive, look how high above the rim he is.
Diallo averaged 8.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 20 minutes per contest in five games this past week. There were two games that he scored 16 points and he shot 53% overall.
Policelli showcased his range from deep with this 25 foot three-pointer. Also, what a quick release!
He needs to work on his consistency, as Policelli struggled from behind the arc in five games this week, making just 6 of 32 attempts for 19%. However, he produced a solid stat line of 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 26.6 minutes per game.
Diallo and Policelli are two local prospects that Rutgers are certainly in the mix for in the 2018 class.
As for top target Montez Mathis, he played in four games during the first week of the live period and assistant Jay Young was there to see him as well. In a loss Thursday, he led his team, which includes 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, with 22 points on 8-20 shooting from the field and grabbed 6 boards. More on Mathis in a bit, as he played in three games on Friday.
Back at the Peach Jam, Rutgers returned for the night session to watch Jalen Carey again. The usual suspects in UConn and Syracuse were there as well.
UConn had Kevin Ollie and Dwayne Killings back out for Jalen Carey. Syracuse had Boeheim and Gerry Mac. Rutgers and Seton Hall also on him— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 14, 2017
Peach Jam evening action. #Cuse target Jalen Carey had a game high 28 points, 10-23 FG, 4-9 3pt, 4 steals and 3 boards in a loss.— Dean Francis (@OttosWorld365) July 14, 2017
For a full list of statistics for the five games that the NJ Playaz competed in at the Peach Jam this week, click here.
One new offer was given out by Rutgers that was reported on Thursday. I’ve written at length about how prepared and organized that Pikiell and the staff have been in recruiting so far since being at Rutgers. While the July live period is about honing in on already established 2018 & 2019 targets, the staff continues to stay ahead of the curve and offered one 2020 prospect, while we look at another from that class offered back in May.
Rutgers has offered 2020 Georgia Stars wing BJ Boston— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) July 13, 2017
Boston was playing with the Georgia Stars at the Peach Invitational, which took place nearby the Peach Jam. Pikiell and Knight obviously liked what they saw and offered the rising wing who should see his recruiting profile blow up in the next year.
Boston will likely end up as a consensus top 100 recruit in the class 2020 and is rated as a 4-star prospect by Scout so far, as the other services haven’t completed rankings that far ahead. Verbal commits lists his only other offers being from Auburn and Georgia Tech, so once again credit Rutgers for getting involved early in recruiting a top prospect in a future class. That has quickly become a trademark of the Pikiell era and an area that will pay off at some point down the road. Boston appears to be mature in his approach in developing and improving his game, which you can watch him being drilled in this video.
Greg Brown is playing with Basketball University on the under 17 circuit, so two steps above his age group, as he is just a rising sophomore. Nothing concrete was reported in terms of assistant coach Jay Young watching Brown this week, but it’s possible that he checked in on the talented forward from Texas. Verbal Commits reports that Rutgers offered Brown back in late May. While Brown will likely have his choice of high major programs to choose from, he is just another example of top talent that Rutgers is out in front on in recruiting national prospects. This type of due diligence and big picture thinking are encouraging trends we are consistently seeing from this current Rutgers regime.
Day 3 - July 14th
Pikiell and Knight continued to make the rounds at the Peach Jam, as they spent some time watching Wynston Tabbs, another Top 150 recruit in the class of 2018 per Rivals.
Penn st, Rutgers, Unlv, WVU, Pitt, VCU, S Florida, Syracuse, St Joes, Cincinnati in for Melo 2018 @sb_wynston— TeamMeloBasketball (@Dwayne_Wise) July 14, 2017
Rutgers offered Tabbs back in April and since then, the 4-star shooting guard has received additional offers from St. John’s, VCU, Cincinnati, and UNLV, among others. Tabbs received his Rutgers offer while visiting the program and spoke highly of the staff to Corey Evans of Rivals, which I covered here.
Penn State has long been considered the favorite to land Tabbs, but it’s obvious that Rutgers continues to make a push for the explosive guard. Check out this highlight from Tabbs in action at the Peach Jam this weekend. Hopefully, Rutgers can get Tabbs back on campus later this summer.
Montez Mathis had a busy day and after shooting just 3 of 15 from the field in a morning win that he finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds, he responded with a team high 25 points, 6 boards, and 3 steals in a huge win over SC Supreme and top 3 2018 recruit Zion Williamson. In the clip below, you can see Williamson hit a baseline jumper, followed by Quickley throwing a great halfcourt lob pass to Mathis for the dunk on the other end.
Williamson pulls up in Quickley's face, drills it. Quickley immediately throws a lob from half court, crowd goes wild. pic.twitter.com/OauCoJxDAi— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) July 14, 2017
While Williamson and Quickley were the two most highly touted prospects in the game, the 4-star Mathis and perennial top 100 recruit was recognized as well.
Montez Mathis of Team BBC attacks every play, good at moving without the ball, strong defender, bouncy, scored 25 in win over SC Supreme pic.twitter.com/ClqOWaFrTR— Justin Byerly (@JustinByerly) July 14, 2017
Another clip of Mathis that I loved seeing, was this assist to Quickley, who made a three-pointer from the corner. Watch Mathis immediately attack the rim for a potential offensive rebound if Quickley had missed. These are the type of traits that don’t show up in the box score, but highlight the high IQ and motor of Mathis.
Kansas head coach Bill Self was at the game, but reportedly for teammate Immanuel Quickley, who is arguably the top point guard in the class of 2018. However, Self was surely keeping an eye on Mathis as well. Although Kansas has not offered and Mathis is likely a backup plan for the storied program, it certainly is a situation that bears watching.
Team BBC was eliminated after losing their next game, which was their third game of the day. Mathis struggled again, shooting just 4 of 21 from the field for 9 points. However, the entire team shot just 28% from the floor and only scored 42 points total. Still, it’s encouraging that Mathis grabbed 9 rebounds in a game you know he was dead tired to be playing in. He also had 2 blocks and it’s this type of effort that has Pikiell and the staff drooling over.
Mathis has played in 12 games on the Adidas Uprising circuit since the beginning of the April live period and is averaging 17.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.2 assists in 23.5 minutes per game. In the four games this week, Mathis averaged 16 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1 block per contest. He is a hard working player on both ends of the floor and while there were no sightings reported on Friday, there should be no doubt that Rutgers assistant Jay Young was there to watch Mathis. Expect Pikiell to watch Mathis before the July live period is over in two weeks.
Day 4 - July 15th
Another day and another Steve Pikiell sighting, this time watching the competition between mostly class of 2019 prospects. Team Final is a powerhouse program out of Philadelphia that have two of the top players in the 2018 class on their senior team in Cam Reddish and Louis King. Rutgers has their eye on 2019 guard Khalif Battle, who they offered last year after the July live period and watched on Saturday.
Tony Bennett, Steve Pikiell, Syracuse, Miami, UConn, Northwestern, Butler, Penn among those watching @TeamFinalHoops /Southern Stampede 16s— Ari (@ARosenfeldDVHR) July 15, 2017
The competition is fierce already for Battle, who impressed in front of a slew of programs, hitting the game winning shot on Saturday.
Khalif Battle with the off-balance game winner to send @TeamFinalHoops to the 16U PIT final! They knock off Southern Stampede, 67-64— Ari (@ARosenfeldDVHR) July 15, 2017
Battle just picked up two offers in the past week from Syracuse and Washington, per Pat Lawless. Battle’s brother, Tyus, will be a sophomore at Syracuse and of course, Washington is now coached by the former top assistant of head coach Jim Boeheim, Mike Hopkins. Still, you have to love the relentlessness of Pikiell in going after top players in every class, regardless of competition. However, he has also done a good job of exploring all levels for talented players that he feels can help the program move forward.
Shaq Carter has been on the radar of Rutgers for some time and he averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 boards per game in his first year at JUCO school Eastern Florida State. The 6’9” forward has a lot of potential and has now received multiple high major offers.
Shaq Carter (6'9, F, 2018) of Eastern Florida has recent offers from Xavier, Purdue, Wash St, Auburn, Wichita St & Rutgers @EasternFLHoops— JucoRecruiting.com (@JucoRecruiting) July 16, 2017
While Rutgers is targeting dozen’s of talented rising seniors in the high school ranks for their 2018 class, they continue to demonstrate their resourcefulness in recruiting nationally at all levels. Keep an eye on Carter and whether he visits the program at some point in the future.
As for players that Rutgers has offered that are a bit under the radar in the class of 2018, point guard Mac McClung had quite the highlight reel dunk in action at the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale this weekend.
While McClung had an up and down tournament stat wise, his best overall game performance was a 13 point, 7 assist, 3 rebound game in just 19 minutes against New World in a blowout win for Team Loaded. If point guard targets like Jalen Carey and Marcus Zegarowski don’t work out for Rutgers, McClung would be a very good option for the program. He visited in June and received an offer at that time, so expect Rutgers to continue to track the tough and athletic Virginia guard. Again, the staff is doing an excellent job of being involved with multiple prospects at every position for the 2018 class.
2018 Mac McClung of Team Loaded VA/Gate City has blown up this summer! Recent interest from Gonzaga, Cincinnati, SMU, Marquette, IA St. pic.twitter.com/XvKLdDs14W— Vantage Hoops (@VantageHoops) July 16, 2017
Day 5 - July 16th
Sunday is the last day of the first session of the July live period and no surprise, coach Pikiell continues to grind it out. He is pictured below in this tweet from the Hoop Group Team Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.
He was spotted watching the PSA Cardinals in the morning.
Rutgers Head Basketball Coach Steve Pikiell is in the building here watching the PSA Cardinals vs Team Loaded 757.— Ryan Brindley (@brindleysports) July 16, 2017
It looks like Pikiell is probably checking out Paul Mulcahy again as well, who was spotted at the Hoop Group event.
Paul Mulcahy is back from Peach Jam to play for Gill St Bernard's. The Jersey guard has offers from V Tech, Seton Hall, SMU, and others. pic.twitter.com/Go3JiktvD3— Ryan Brindley (@brindleysports) July 16, 2017
Here are some highlights of Mulcahy in action on Sunday:
Rutgers has been facing an uphill battle on the recruiting trail for literally, years and years. However, it was evident well before this week that Pikiell and this staff have been relentless in attacking this rebuild by scouring the country for talent to upgrade the program with. This first week of the July live period just reinforces that thought. The reality is as much as I covered of what was reported, in terms of the staff watching recruiting targets, there should be no doubt they watched and evaluated many more recruits as well. Seeing Pikiell at the Hoop Group event on Sunday morning is just another sign of how committed he is to turning around the program.
If anymore updates arise from the last day of the first week of the July live period, I’ll update accordingly.
Update: Sunday 2:30 p.m.
Rutgers was cited as attending Sunday's Big Shots event in Myrtle Beach.
Christopher Newport— BIG SHOTS- Schneider (@BigShotsNation) July 16, 2017
College of Charleston
Penn State University
Targets playing include class of 2020 Greg Brown and 2018 target Mac McClung.