With practice for the 2018-2019 season underway and the first game just over five weeks from tipping off, the coaching staff continues to plug away on the recruiting trail. After a busy July live period and having hosted multiple recruits in August, as well as class of 2020 4-star forward Isaiah Cottrell last weekend, Rutgers top priority at the moment is filling the final scholarship available in the class of 2019. With point guard Paul Mulcahy already in the fold, head coach Steve Pikiell can be selective in finding the right recruit to join the program for the 2019 class.
One position that the staff continues to focus on for this last scholarship is a shooting wing. After missing in recent months with 4-star recruits Andre Hyatt and Ismael Massoud, who committed to LSU and Wake Forest, respectively, the program is set to host an intriguing prospect from Kentucky on an official visit this weekend, beginning on Friday. It was first reported by DeAnte’ Mitchell of Rivals & The Knight Report.
Mickey Pearson is a 6’7” wing from Elizabethtown, Kentucky who recently reclassified to the class of 2019 and will play at Hargrave Military Academy in the upcoming season. He originally signed a letter of intent with Saint Louis last November, but was granted his full release this past June. He spoke about his decision in more detail here. Pearson played on the Adidas circuit with AAU program Maninmal Elite during the July live period to gain more exposure. Due to changing course so late in the 2018 recruiting cycle, he ultimately decided to go the prep school route this season before making his final college decision.
Since announcing his reclassification, Pearson has reportedly garnered interest from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Virginia, Northwestern, as well as taken unofficial visits to Louisville and Mississippi. However, Rutgers is the only high major offer that has been reported. They offered Pearson on September 20th, soon after watching him during an open session at Hargrave.
During Pearson’s initial recruitment as a member of the class of 2018 before committing to Saint Louis, he held offers from only mid-majors, including Western Kentucky, Stony Brook, Bradley, and Ball State, among others. A year of development at a prominent prep program like Hargrave can benefit Pearson before potentially playing for a high major school next season.
Pearson was named First Team All-State during his senior season after averaging 25.5 points on 55.1% shooting from the field, including 38.4% from three-point range on 190 attempts. He was also a 74.8% shooter from the charity stripe and was fifth in all of Kentucky with 11.0 rebounds per game. Pearson added 2.5 blocks and 2.3 assists as well. He led his high school, John Hardin, to a 28-8 record during a season that they advanced to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament. He is a true triple threat player that can dribble, pass, and shoot, as well as defend and rebound. His shooting range is unlimited, as you can see it appears he has unlimited range after watching the seemingly endless parade of deep three’s in his senior highlight video.
Pearson will need to bulk up his 6’7” frame in order to handle the grind of the Big Ten, but there is no doubting his athleticism. Improved strength will make him more effective attacking the basket against the trees in the paint at the next level. What Pearson does possess right now is an ability to knock down three-pointers, something our own Dave White touched on the importance of for this season’s Rutgers team to improve on. He also can create his own shot off the dribble and was a prolific rebounder at the high school level. His versatile game and ability to play multiple positions on the floor fits the type of player that Pikiell has been pursuing and adding to the program. An emphasis on finding more shooters who are athletic has been a priority and Pearson appears to fit the bill.
If Rutgers was able to lock down Pearson soon, it would allow the coaching staff to focus on class of 2020 targets and beyond heading into this season, as all the scholarships would be filled for the following year. The timing of Pearson’s decision to reclassify has presented an opportunity for Rutgers to land him quickly before other high majors get more heavily involved as this season progresses. They had interest in him before he committed to Saint Louis and that awareness put them in prime position when his circumstances changed. I’ve said before that Pikiell and the staff are extremely prepared with their recruiting plans. If Pearson does ultimately come to Rutgers and can develop into an effective scoring wing for the program, the potential recruiting win would be looked back on as a steal for the coaching staff.