It's game day for Rutgers Football, as the season finally opens tonight at 8 p.m. At High Point Solutions Stadium against #7/#8 Washington. With the school year about to kick into full gear and with the big game tonight, the men's basketball program is hosting multiple recruits on a weekend that is perfect to showcase life at Rutgers.
It’s been reported previously from Richie Schnyderite of Rivals that class of 2018 3-star big man Warren Washington was set to visit this weekend. The staff watched Washington during the July live period and offered him soon after. He reportedly holds offers from Utah, Cal, San Diego State, and Butler, among others, per 247 Sports. Although most of his interest from schools has come from the west coast, the California native looks like he is interested in Rutgers by visiting this weekend. While the staff continue to keep their options open in case a spot does become available down the road with the 2018 class, they have a great opportunity to focus on the 2019 class now.
With that being said, one of the best rising junior’s in the country is set to visit Friday in 4-star guard Khalif Battle, which I confirmed with his AAU coach yesterday, Aaron Burt of Team Final.
On the Nike EYBL circuit, Team Final is a program that has risen to prominence in recent years. The roster from this past cycle over the spring and summer included two of the top 2018 prospects in the country in Cam Reddish and Louis King.
In regards to Battle, here is what coach Burt had to say about his game:
“Khalif may be the best shooter in his class. He can shoot it off the bounce as well as the catch. He is very athletic and competes. He’s not afraid to take a big shot, or defend the best player on the other team. He’s not Tyus’ little brother anymore!”
You may remember Tyus Battle, who was also a 4-star guard and was one of the best recruits in the 2016 class, including the top ranked player in New Jersey. He averaged 10.3 points per game in his freshman season at Syracuse and will be a key player for them this season.
Like his brother did in the middle of his high school career, Khalif just transferred to Gill St. Bernard’s. He will be playing with another top target for Rutgers in the 2019 class in Paul Mulcahy.
According to 24/7 Sports, Battle holds offers from Syracuse, UConn, Washington, VCU, Miami and St. Joseph’s, in addition to Rutgers. He also took a recent visit to UCLA. Of course, Syracuse looms large in his recruitment with his brother entering his sophomore season with the program. However, Battle was a player that Rutgers watched often during the July live period and they’ve had him on campus as early as August of last year. While Battle has seen his recruitment pick up this past year, it’s clear Rutgers identified him as a top target in the 2019 class long ago. Steve Pikiell looks to be putting the full court press on Battle and getting him on campus this weekend is a positive step in his recruitment.
In addition to Battle, Rutgers is also hosting his Team Final teammate and 2019 big man Peter Sorber, who plays for Notre Dame Prep in New Jersey, per coach Burt. This is what his Team Final coach said about Sorber’s game:
“Peter is physical and continues to get better as he gets older. He has great toughness and rebounds in traffic well. I think as he grows, he will become a better post defender and finisher around the basket. He has a good understanding of the game and his better days are ahead of him.”
One of the many things that has impressed me so far about the Pikiell era is that while the staff has shown their ability to land a top recruit, like 4-star guard Montez Mathis, they’ve also done a great job of finding under the radar prospects. Many times over already, Rutgers has been the first major offer for players that eventually see their recruitment grow over time. That shows that the staff is very good at evaluating players and are organized in targeting them ahead of other schools. Getting in early on a player’s recruitment can sometimes be the difference in ultimately landing that recruit.
In terms of Sorber, he averaged 4.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game as a sophomore at Notre Dame prep, per NJ Advance Media. Sorber plays with highly sought after guard and Isaiah Wong, who holds a Rutgers offer and is rated the #72 top prospect in the 2019 class, per Rivals. Sorber is known as a rim enforcer and has had close to double digit blocks in high school games. It’s common for big men to develop their offensive game a bit later and coach Burt backed that up in saying Sorber will only get better with time. The fact is Sorber plays for one of the best AAU teams in the country and will only improve with more high level competition and experience. Credit coach Pikiell and the staff for identifying Sorber before any other high major. While it doesn’t appear they’ve offered him yet, they are obviously interested and he could develop into a strong rebounder and defender at the next level.
Other visitors have also been confirmed for this weekend, including two current commits!
Big visitors today for #Rutgers— Andrew Slater (@ASlater247) September 1, 2017
2018 Warren Washington
2019 Eric Dixon
2019 Khalid Battle
2018 Montez Mathis
2018 Ron Harper Jr.
Eric Dixon is a 4-star big man in the class of 2019 and this will mark his third visit to Rutgers since June. I detailed his background ahead of his last visit in August here. This is very encouraging and it certainly helps having Mathis and Harper Jr there to preach their belief in Pikiell and the program.
After the program just had the best month on the recruiting trail that Rutgers has had in years, they are now starting off September with a big weekend. By hosting multiple recruits, including Battle, who is ranked the 67th best prospect in the class of 2019 by Rivals, Rutgers continues to build momentum off of the multiple commitments and visitors they had in August. The future looks brighter every day for Rutgers basketball, as year two of the Pikiell era is now just a couple months away from tipping off.