The hard work that the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff has put in on the recruiting trail in the almost year and a half since they’ve led the program, paid off in a big way in the past several weeks. Now that Rutgers has four verbal commitments within their 2018 class, currently ranked 12th in the country by 247 Sports, it provides the staff an opportunity to really focus on the 2019 class moving forward. As Dave White pointed out, the fact that it’s only August and the school year hasn’t even begun yet is truly something. Steve Pikiell has proven to be an organized and strategic recruiter in his year plus on the job. Give him a bit of a head start, so to speak, on future classes, and who knows what results he may be able to produce.
Rutgers has been busy hosting multiple recruits all summer and continue to bring key targets to campus since the July live period ended. For the 2019 class, as of now, there should be between two and three scholarships available. Of course, recruiting is always a fluid situation and that number could change over time. Based on who has visited the program in recent months and who the staff tracked during the July live period, here some of the top targets in the 2019 class for Rutgers basketball.
.@RivalsNation 2019 big man Wildens Leveque is expected to be on Rutgers' campus today.— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) August 18, 2017
The staff watched Leveque during the live period and offered him during the second week, which I covered here. Getting him on campus this past Friday shows there is serious interest on both sides. The 6’9” big man has flown under the radar and Rutgers is the only school have offered him so far. However, he has a ton of potential and the New England Recruiting Report had this to say about Leveque earlier this month:
“Another guy who missed the spring with an injury (wrist), Leveque started to make a name for himself in July but looks poised to really make his mark on New England this winter. He’s all of 6-foot-9, physical inside, a rim protector, and hard finisher with developing offensive touch.”
It appears that Leveque recently reclassified, as I previously saw him as being listed in the class of 2018. However, multiple sites now list him in the class of 2019. Moving back a year will give him even more valuable development time. He plays for Foxborough Regional Charter school and is yet another New England target for the Rutgers staff. He plays AAU ball with Mass Rivals on the Adidas circuit and his teammate, Daillon Johnson, a guard from the class of 2020, also received an offer from Rutgers during the July live period. I love the staff have specifically targeted the New England region in finding recruits who are not as well known, but are stocked with talent and potential.
Leveque is a bit raw, but has a high ceiling and a versatile skill set. Watch him on the break here, where is his athleticism is obvious.
6'10 TRUE JR Wildens L. It takes bigs longer to develop but when they do they become SPECIAL @AdamFinkelstein @RivalsNation @NEBallAcademy pic.twitter.com/7UzjMD5Pnt— Sherwyn Cooper (@BallasTV) March 1, 2017
Tariq Ingraham, a class of 2019 Big Man from Team Rio (NJ), will go on an unofficial visit to Rutgers today.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) August 17, 2017
The 6’8” forward plays for The Ranney School and Team Rio, the same programs that uber 2019 recruits Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine play for. Rutgers offered him back in May and had him on campus for an unofficial visit this past week. The staff also offered Ingraham’s other teammate on Team Rio, 4-star point guard Jalen Gaffney. Rutgers was the first high major program to offer Ingraham, but he is on the radar of many others and will likely see his recruitment take off this winter. Credit Rutgers with getting him on campus before the school year begins. Here are highlights of him last season when he played for Sallies in Delaware.
Rutgers will host 2019 four star wing Aundre Hyatt tomorrow for an unofficial— Julius Kim (@JKimElevate) August 14, 2017
Aundre Hyatt is another player who reclassified to the class of 2019 and the 4-star, 6’7” wing can really shoot the basketball. He had intended to visit Rutgers earlier in August, but rescheduled for this past week. It’s a great sign that the staff got Hyatt to visit soon after the July live period ended.
Hyatt is from White Plains, New York and Rutgers offered him last December after a standout performance at the Phenom Joe Miller Invitational. Per 247 Sports, Hyatt also holds offers from LSU, Oregon, St. John’s, USC, Virginia Tech and Yale, among others. In addition, Hyatt received an offer from Seton Hall the day before his Rutgers visit last week, taking a trip to see Kevin Willard’s program. It will be interesting to see if both schools emerge as top choices for the talented Hyatt. His versatility and shooting ability are key attributes that Hyatt would bring to any program that is fortunate enough to ultimately land him. He performed really well this past July on the Nike EYBL circuit for his Boo Williams squad and is a consensus top 100 recruit in the class of 2019.
The 4-star big man has visited Rutgers this past June and in early August. He had a tremendous few weeks on the Under Armour circuit and recruiting writer Julius Kim labeled him one of the top performers at an event last week. The 6’7” forward just missed the cut last fall for the Under-16 US National Team, as he made it all the way to the final group of 16 players, before the roster was trimmed to 12.
He has seen his recruitment blow up and holds additional offers from Virginia, Miami, Georgetown, Penn State, Oklahoma State and Seton Hall, among others, per 247 Sports. Rutgers offered him back in early May and have seemed to make him a priority ever since. It will be interesting to see how Dixon’s recruitment progresses, but credit the Rutgers staff for making a strong push for the talented forward from the Philadelphia area. Dixon was named Second Team All-State in Pennsylvania last season as a sophomore at Abington high school and he was the only non-senior to be named to either of the first two teams. He averaged 19.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He would obviously be a big addition to the frontcourt in the future.
Other Top 2019 Targets
4-star wing Ismael Massoud visited Rutgers back in June and is a top shooter in the 2019 class. The 6’7” Massoud had a solid July playing on the Nike EYBL circuit for NYC power, the PSA Cardinals, and plays prep ball in New England at the prominent MacDuffie School. Rutgers offered him back in May and look for them to get him back on campus soon.
Another 4-star recruit in the 2019 class, Paul Mulcahy, also visited Rutgers right before the July live period began. The coaching staff has been recruiting the 6’5” combo guard for a long time. The Gill St. Bernard star has multiple high major offers and is ranked the 7th best recruit in the 2019 class in New Jersey, per 247 Sports.
His former high school teammate, Khalif Battle, is ranked 6th in the state and had a monster July. Rutgers watched him often last month and it will be interesting if they can get him back on campus soon, after Battle visited last August. Rutgers also offered his Nike EYBL Team Final teammate, K’Vonn Cramer, during the last week of the July live period.
In fact, Rutgers offered Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6’10” big man who played with Mac McClung for Team Loaded VA. The 4-star recruit picked up multiple high major offers during the July live period, but hopefully with McClung now in the fold, Rutgers will be able to get a visit from Tshiebwe sometime soon.
Dahmir Bishop is a 6’4” shooting guard from Philly that Rutgers offered as well in July.
Gob Gabriel is an intruiging wing player whose brother, Wenyen, starts for Kentucky. He plays for the same AAU team incoming freshman Geo Baker played for, the DC Blue Devils. Gabriel is still growing and reportedly standing at 6’8” now, which means his game is still developing.
We haven’t even gotten to players that Rutgers has offered in the ESPN Top 60 rankings, including consensus Top 15 recruits Chol Marial, Bryan Antoine, and Scottie Lewis. It’s unlikely that Rutgers gains serious traction with these players, who will be able to choose from any program in the country, but that didn’t stop the staff from pursuing them initially and giving it their best shot.
Other intriguing 2019 targets include 6’11” big man Qudus Wahab, the 4-star center who visited Rutgers back in February. Khalil Whitney, whose father played at Seton Hall, has been recruited by the Rutgers staff for a long time and the 4-star recruit from Roselle Catholic last visited campus in the spring.
Rutgers has previously offered 4-star forward from Maryland, Karim Coulibally, who visited back in May.
Of course, the staff continue to look for under the radar prospects and have offered guard Alexander Rice, the son of Monmouth head coach King Rice, NYC forward Kareem Reid, who visited campus in late June.
In my class of 2019 preview, ahead of the July live period beginning, I covered recruits that Rutgers contacted on June 15th, the first day they could reach out to players in this cycle. They included 7 footer Charles Coleman, a teammate of 2018 commit Montez Mathis at Team BBC in shooting guard Logan Curtis, the top point guard in New England, Taelon Martin, and another floor general in Daman Tate.
With 4-star commits in Montez Mathis and Mamadou Doucoure, as well as 3-star commits in Mac McClung and Ron Harper Jr. (recently upgraded), Steve Pikiell is in line to bring the deepest and highest rated recruiting class to Rutgers since the highly touted 2011 class that included Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack. (UPDATE: A report from Jerry Carino indicates that Doucoure has enrolled at Rutgers and will likely play this coming season.)
Now that Pikiell and the staff have momentum on the recruiting trail, the possibilities for the 2019 class are just as bright. Having multiple 4-star recruits on campus this month, as well as the staff having a knack for identifying under the radar players before other most other high majors do, I truly believe the sky is the limit in recruiting for Rutgers basketball, now and in the future. With a new practice facility on the way and a veteran core returning this season that could produce the program’s first winning campaign in over a decade, better days are rapidly approaching under Steve Pikiell.