If you thought that head coach Steve Pikiell and the coaching staff have been busy on the recruiting trail recently, they are about to get even more so. The July live recruiting period begins on this Wednesday, July 12th. It consists of three consecutive weeks for men’s college basketball coaches to evaluate recruits. There are three different five day periods where multiple AAU tournaments are held across the country. It’s a critical time in both identifying new talent, while also focusing on already established targets that schools hope to ultimately sign. In the next few days, I will cover several storylines for Rutgers and what to watch for during this live recruiting period. Today, let’s start with players the program has already offered or are tracking in the class of 2019.
June 15th was the first day rising juniors were able to be contacted by college coaches in this recruiting cycle. There should be no surprise that Rutgers was extremely active in reaching out to a handful of prospects in the 2019 class and in addition, have already hosted several recruits in the past few weeks. Let’s review who they have made a priority, in what will be a critical fourth recruiting class for head coach Steve Pikiell.
7'0 C/O '19 Charles Coleman heard from UNLV, UCONN, Providence, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Northeastern, St Joe's, Stony Brook & many more. #work— WrightWay Skills (@WrightWaySkills) June 16, 2017
Coleman is a seven footer who has legitimate three-point range, good footwork, multiple post moves, and can be a strong rim defender at the next level. His versatility is impressive and while he isn’t ranked among the top ten centers in his class, his potential is vast. Here is a review of his recent performance at Providence Jam Fest in May from Mike Yagmin of the New England Recruiting Report:
“Charles Coleman played in his first event since being offered by UConn last week. A 7-foot blue chip recruit in the Class of 2019, Coleman's jumper is freakishly consistent and his shot is true. There are times when Coleman's discomfort simply from growing pains is obviously visible and doesn't allow him to play for extensive minutes in back-to-back games, which should be expected from a player of his size at the age of 16. Watching Coleman's development over the last 9 months has been jaw-dropping at times and, when you think about how far ahead Coleman is of other elite bigs at the same age, it's almost scary.”
I’m sure his recruitment will blow up after July, as he mostly holds low major offers so far. While Rutgers visited Coleman back in March, it doesn’t appear they have offered yet. That may change soon, once Pikiell has time to watch the big man play this month.
UConn appears to be the biggest competition so far. He already has an offer from the Huskies and visited their program recently. Even so, credit the Rutgers staff for consistently being on top of underrated players on the New England prep circuit. If they can continue to build relationships up north and find a player in every class, it would be a major step forward in upgrading the talent within the program. Here are highlights of Coleman, where he showcases his all around game, that begin with a couple of minutes of him making three-pointers. Try not to drool.
Curtis plays for the same AAU program as Montez Mathis, the top target of Rutgers in the class of 2018. I’ll have more on Mathis later this week. As for Curtis, he heard from a lot of good programs soon after the contact period began and Rutgers was among the schools to call. The 6’4” shooting guard plays high school ball for Calvert Hall in Maryland and while not highly ranked yet, he could really see his stock rise with a strong performance this month. We know the program desperately needs more shooters and the staff are obviously interested to some degree in Curtis by contacting him in mid-June. They will get a better look at Curtis during the live period, while they keep a close eye on Mathis. Here are highlights from Logan’s sophomore season.
Tariq Ingraham 6'9 PF (2019) received calls from Rutgers, Oregon State, Virginia, and St. Joe's as phone lines opened up today— Team Rio National (@teamrionational) June 16, 2017
Ingraham is a big bodied forward who has flown under the radar a bit so far in his recruitment. However, Rutgers offered Ingraham back in early May and appear to be making him a priority in the class of 2019. He will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent, as he plays alongside two legitimate stars in Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis on Team Rio on the Nike EYBL circuit. More on Antoine and Lewis in a bit. So far, Rutgers is the only high major to offer Ingraham, but schools like Villanova, Maryland, Virginia, and Seton Hall, all programs targeting the dynamic duo just mentioned, are starting to recruit him as well. Credit Pikiell and the staff for being in on the big man first and hopefully they can continue to build a great relationship with him. Ingraham will play his junior season at Bonner Prendergast in Pennsylvania, per Pat Lawless. Here are some highlights from last season.
2019 Taelon Martin picked up an offer from Rutgers today.— Rivals Nation (@RivalsNation) June 15, 2017
The 6’3” point guard is ranked the #2 player in New England for class of 2019 by the New England Recruiting Report. They rank the Putnam Tech star only behind 7’1” center Chol Marial, who ESPN ranks as the 4th best recruit in the entire 2019 class and a player that Rutgers offered during last year’s July live period. Like Marial, UConn has offered and recruiting Martin hard. Other schools that have offered the talented floor general are Virginia Tech, Rhode Island, and UMASS. He is obviously a priority for Rutgers, as they offered him as soon as they were able to contact him on June 15th. Expect Pikiell and the staff to watch Martin in action for Mass Rivals this month, an AAU program sponsored by Adidas. You can watch his athleticism and willingness to play defense in these highlights from a game last season.
2019 6"4 PG Daman Tate (@daman_t1) heard from Rutgers, URI, George Washington, Umass & Northeastern today.— Expressions❌EYBL (@XEliteBasketbal) June 15, 2017
The 6’4” guard also plays on the New England prep circuit for Cushing Academy in Massachusetts. The New England Recruiting Report ranks Tate as the 18th best player in the region for the class of 2019. He plays for Expressions Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit. Tate was battling an ankle injury earlier this spring, but played well in May at a Nike event in May. The combo guard appears to only hold an offer from Rhode Island so far, but he received a lot of interest in mid-June from the schools mentioned above, including Rutgers. Expect the staff to evaluate him this month in order to determine if they will ultimately offer him. These highlights are a couple of years old, but you can see his potential.
Khalif, the brother of Tyus Battle, the former Gill St. Bernard star who is currently at Syracuse, is making a name for himself and the point guard was contacted by a lot of big name programs in June. However, Rutgers was the first high major to offer Battle and that was after last year’s July live period. Battle has visited the program since and credit the coaching staff for getting involved so early in his recruitment. He transferred from St. Joe’s of Metuchen to Roselle Catholic before last season and now plays for AAU power Team Final. He will have plenty of coaches watching him this month and expect Rutgers to be there as well. I fully expect his offer list to grow quite bit once this live period concludes.
Scottie Lewis & Bryan Antoine
Rutgers has been tracking Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, consensus 5-star recruits and top 15 players in the class of 2019, ever since Pikiell took over the program. They visited last August, which I profiled here. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Rutgers with these two, as they can essentially choose from almost any program in the country. Kansas, Villanova, Florida and Maryland have offered both players , among others. 247 Sports lists their full offer lists here and here. Of course, Duke and Kentucky are lurking in the shadows as well. Even so, credit Pikiell and Rutgers for not giving up and making a serious play for the duo.
In addition to all of the recruits just mentioned, the staff have been busy hosting other 2019 prospects in the past month. Rutgers hosted a slew of recruits in late June from multiple classes. While the headliner was 4-star guard Jalen Carey from the class of 2018, the program also hosted his teammate Justin Winston, a 3-star forward now in the class of 2019. They also had 6’8” forward Kareem Reid from Queens on campus and they just offered him last week.
Other intriguing 2019 prospects that visited that same weekend in late June were three players from Our Savior New American, including Clarence Nadolny, a 6’2” combo guard, and twin brothers Hassan and Fousseyni Drame, a pair of 6’5” wings. They all are teammates of current class of 2018 Rutgers commit Mamadou Doucoure. To read more on the entire group of players just mentioned who visited on the same weekend, click here.
The following week, the staff hosted three highly rated recruits from the class of 2019. Over three consecutive days, Rutgers hosted 4-star wing Ismael Massoud, 3-star forward Eric Dixon, and 4-star guard Paul Mulcahy. It was an impressive development and demonstrates how much progress Pikiell has made in getting top players in future classes to visit campus. It was something that was not a regular occurrence in previous years and a great sign that Pikiell is working hard to change the perception of the program. To read about those three players, click here and here.
What To Watch For In July
The coaching staff has done a great job of identifying talent, both in the 2018 and 2019 classes. All four coaches will be all over the place this month, evaluating as many targets as possible, while also looking for new ones as well. One aspect that really stands out with this staff is how organized and strategic they have been in recruiting. They have hosted and offered so many quality players in both classes, it’s been difficult to keep track because they’ve been so active. The staff can now use this July live period to hone in on their top targets, rather than play catch up like they did last year after just taking over the program a few months before. Patience is needed, but Rutgers is involved with so many intriguing and talented players in both classes, that is really does seem like only a matter of time before things really improve on the recruiting front. I’ll have plenty more to preview before Wednesday, so stay tuned.