Despite the July live period ending last Sunday, it has been a very busy recruiting week for Rutgers basketball. I recapped the latest developments from week three of the live period here. However, a lot has happened since in the past 36 hours, so let’s catch up.
3-star point guard Mac McClung, who the staff hosted back in June and watched him play extensively during the July live period, committed to the program yesterday. It was a very good pickup, which I’ll cover in more detail in a bit. Also, the highly anticipated decision of priority target and consensus Top 100 recruit Montez Mathis was supposed to be announced today. However, last night, Mathis tweeted that he needs more time.
My Family and myself would like to sit down futher to discuss my college decision... I will not be committing tomorrow.— Montez Mathis (@MontezMathis) August 4, 2017
Regardless of what this means for Rutgers, this is a good decision for Mathis. There is no sense in rushing to a decision based on a self-imposed deadline. It’s clear he is conflicted in where to go, as UConn and Rutgers appear to be the schools he is deciding on, with Virginia Tech potentially still under consideration as well. It’s now possible that Mathis sticks with his original plan of taking his official visits. It’s a wait and see on how he proceeds, but this is a much smarter approach than rushing, which could have ultimately lead him to changing his mind later on.
From a Rutgers perspective, it’s no secret that many recruiting analysts have cited head coach Steve Pikiell having a great relationship with the Mathis family, particularly his mother. On the flip side, UConn assistant Raphael Chillious has strong relationships in the DMV area and has been recruiting Mathis since the sixth grade. It makes perfect sense that Mathis take his time and figure out what is best for him. For fans, the wait continues, but there was also some good news to celebrate on Thursday.
McClung was an important pickup for several reasons. First, Pikiell has now landed his point guard of the future, which is a huge development. McClung is an ultra athletic playmaker who will be a great fit for the preferred up tempo style of play that Pikiell envisions moving forward. He is a bit raw and needs to be developed, but with Pikiell, Karl Hobbs and Brandin Knight, all of who were successful high major guards back in the day, its a perfect situation for McClung to blossom in the future. He also has high level experience, playing for one of the best AAU teams this past summer in Team Loaded VA. The fact that the staff see potential in him is really what is important and he does seem to fit the “gym rat” mentality they are looking for. He is also a good student.
Credit assistant Jay Young, who Jerry Carino cited as the lead recruiter for McClung, for continuing to bring in talent to develop. He also landed 3-star California big man Myles Johnson as well.
This certainly helps give Rutgers some much needed momentum on the recruiting trail after being relentless this past spring and summer. Much like last July, when they landed underrated guard Geo Baker, the staff scored another underrated backcourt player and another piece to the puzzle that is needed in rebuilding the program.
Rutgers now has 4-star Mamadou Doucoure and 3-star Mac McClung committed for the class of 2018. At least one spot remains, but there could certainly be more available. The remaining scholarship still open for next season has yet to be filled, so depending on what happens, there could open another spot in the 2018 class. Of course, Corey Sanders could forego his senior year as well, but that is a discussion for another day.
The fact is the staff has worked hard and are recruiting almost a dozen Top 150 recruits in the class of 2018, as well as several under the radar targets as well. No matter how it shakes out, there is reason to feel confident the 2018 class will ultimately be one of the best in some time for the program.
There was more recruiting news on Thursday, as 4-star big man from the class of 2019, Eric Dixon, made his second visit since in a little more than a month’s time.
Dixon visited in late June and having him back on campus right after the July live period is a positive development for Rutgers. 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. He has seen his recruitment really pick up and just yesterday, he received offers from Virginia and Miami. Dixon also holds offers from 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.
Another 4-star forward from the class of 2019 is slated to visit Rutgers next week as well, per Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.
Aundre 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. It’s obviously important for the Rutgers staff to get recruits on campus in August now that the live period is over and the fall is on the horizon. They are doing a great job of building momentum with the 2019 class so far.
In addition, a source has confirmed with me that Isaiah Kelly, a 3-star wing in the class of 2018, who the staff offered last July, is expected to take an official visit soon. Pikiell and associate head coach Karl Hobbs visited Kelly at his home in early April, so getting him on campus is a positive step. Kelly is also being recruited by a slew of Ivy League schools in Harvard, Yale, Brown, all of whom have offered, and also has offers per 247 Sports from Georgia, Cincinnati and Iowa State, among others. Kelly is certainly a player in a position of need for Rutgers, so stay tuned on his this develops.
I hope the main takeaway for Rutgers basketball fans is that recruiting is as exciting as it’s been in years for the program. In fact, I don’t think any coaching staff on the banks has ever been this diligent in having so many targets and backup plans for backup plans the way that coach Pikiell’s staff does. Remember, it was just 17 months ago that Rutgers basketball hit rock bottom. They were dead in the water. And less than a year and a half later, fans now have one of the greatest gifts there is in life, hope.
I understand the pessimistic view that Rutgers has lost out on so many top recruits over the years, but my only response is that this staff is a different animal completely. Rutgers basketball recruiting is exciting and that is progress alone. Adding McClung, along with Doucoure gives the staff solid pieces to work with in building the future. Mathis would be a tremendous add as well and you can guarantee Pikiell will continue to fight to land the talented guard. If anything, the next few months will be mighty interesting. Stay tuned....