While the search continues for the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff to fill the last spot on the roster for next season, that hasn’t prevented them from keeping a sharp eye on the future. Andrew Slater of the The Athletic reported this weekend that 4-star forward Xavier Foster from the class of 2020 visited Rutgers on Sunday. This is a big time prospect from the Midwest and shows that the recruiting footprint that Steve Pikiell is forming includes traditional Big Ten country.
Rivals rates Foster as a 5-star recruit and the 20th best player in the class of 2020, the highest of any recruiting services. His composite ranking of all recruiting sites compiled by 247 Sports lists Foster as a 4-star recruit and 32nd best in his class. He is the consensus top rated player in the state of Iowa in the 2020 class.
Foster is very athletic for his size and has a reputation for playing hard on both ends of the court. He has the potential at the next level to become an elite rim defender and rebounder. It’s typical for big men to be late to develop their offensive game, but Foster can be an impact scorer around the rim from day one in college.
Xavier Foster is a 6’9”. 220 pound forward from Oskaloosa, Iowa and already holds offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Baylor, Creighton, Illinois, Missouri, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, per 247 Sports. The recruiting site also mentions Duke, Kansas and Wisconsin as having interest, and Dylan Burn, who covers Iowa for 247 Sports, reported recently that Florida State, Ohio State, Texas, and Michigan has reached out to Foster as well. So did Kentucky.
He has visited Kansas, Iowa, and Iowa State, so for Steve Pikiell to get Foster on campus is a big deal and an excellent job in getting him to make the 1,000+ mile journey on his own expense (it was an unofficial visit). Foster’s parents are leading his recruitment, which is a positive for Rutgers, as we know from recent recruiting wins like Montez Mathis, Ron Harper Jr. and Paul Mulcahy, that Pikiell does well when the process is dictated by the family.
Rutgers offered Foster on his visit on Sunday and you have to give the staff credit for getting such a highly sought after recruit on campus ahead of his junior season. I understand the many skeptics will say Rutgers has no chance, and while that may be true, it’s important to have a player of Foster’s caliber visit the program. Recruits care about perception and the more others hear about top players in their class or other classes visiting Rutgers, it slowly helps to break down walls of negativity built up over years about this program. To ever become big time, you have to act like it.
For me, that’s been a key difference in Pikiell’s tenure as a recruiter at Rutgers. He shoots for the moon, but is disciplined and smart enough to not lose sight of more realistic options that he needs to help build. He went after Naz Reid, Luther Muhammad and Louis King, all five star recruits in the class of 2018, but still landed 4-star players in Montez Mathis and Ron Harper Jr. that greatly improve the talent base on the roster. Rutgers has recruited 5-star players Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine since the day Pikiell became head coach. While both players are ranked in the top 10 of 2019 recruits and are not seriously considering Rutgers, they had nice things to say about Pikiell, who ultimately landed his top target after all in point guard Paul Mulcahy. Landing the local playmaker made a major statement on the recruiting trail in New Jersey. Having Foster visit now sends a clear message to 2020 recruits, especially in-state targets like 5-star wing Jabri Abdur Rahim and 4-star center Cliff Omoruyi (no relation to Eugene) that Rutgers is pursuing top talent across the country.
Here are highlights of Foster, who Rutgers will likely look to watch during the upcoming July live period.
Grad Transfer Updates:
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi grad transfer Ehab Amin visited Rutgers in mid-June and would be an impact addition next season, both for his scoring ability and being the former national leader in steals two years ago. However, Amin has drawn plenty of interest since backing off his choice of Nevada in May after there were no available roster spots. It was reported that Amin visited Boston College and Oregon last week, per Ellie Lieberman. Amin told Jon Rothstein last Friday his decision was between those schools and Rutgers, as well as Wichita State. It’s likely a decision will be coming soon for Amin, who like any grad transfer, will heavily weigh the factors of playing time versus potential to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Another grad transfer name linked to Rutgers has been Iona grad transfer Schadrac Casimir. The 5’10” guard has been granted permission to speak with Florida Gulf Coast, Arizona State, Rutgers and Southern Utah, per Adam Zagoria. While it was reported by Zagoria that Casimir visited FGCU aka “Dunk City, on June 13th, there hasn’t been any word on a scheduled visit to Rutgers. That doesn’t mean it didn’t already happen, or will happen soon. Casimir averaged 10.4 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 rebounds in the Iona backcourt last season, a team that went to the NCAA Tournament. He shot 45.8% from three-point range last season on 148 attempts. While he hasn’t been the same player that he was as a freshman when he averaged 14.5 points in 34 minutes per game, before suffering a season ending hip injury the following season, Casimir would fill a big need as a legitimate deep threat for Rutgers. While his lack of size is a concern in regard to playing a 20 game Big Ten schedule, Casimir is a tough player who could be a valuable contributor in the rotation next season, as long as he can stay healthy. If Amin doesn’t choose Rutgers, Casimir would be a very solid plan B.
Going back to the future, Rutgers reportedly offered an incoming freshman last week as well in class of 2022 guard Roddy Gayle Jr. He is already 6’4” and the Scarlet Knights are the first high major program to offer. You can’t say this current coaching staff is getting outworked by anyone on the recruiting trail. It’s impressive.
With the July live recruiting period just a couple of weeks ago, I’ll have a full preview on who to expect Rutgers to focus on in the 2019 and 2020 classes during the multiple AAU tournaments next month.
Lastly, the program released pictures of the new court design on Monday that has been being laid down this month at the RAC. I think it’s a sleek design, I like the two-tone brown/beige contrast and of course, the outline of New Jersey sends a clear message to recruits, fans and all state residents that one major goal of Steve Pikiell’s regime is to become the premier college basketball program in the garden state. Only time will tell, but the staff is certainly putting the work in on the recruiting trail to make that a reality at some point in the future.