After a productive week one this month, which I recapped here, it was a busy second week of the July live period from a Rutgers perspective. Head coach Steve Pikiell was spotted at multiple events throughout the week and new offers were made. There are some updates on current targets as well. There is a lot to cover, so let’s tip things off here.
Aundre Hyatt Sets Announcement Date
Every recruitment is different and in the case of 4-star wing Aundre Hyatt, his process has been, in a word, interesting. Rutgers has recruited him for a very long time and it was a pleasant surprise when Hyatt announced he was taking an official visit to the program back in June. The possibility of Hyatt reclassifying to the class of 2018 and enrolling in college this fall also picked up steam. Momentum seemed to be on the side of the Scarlet Knights for a brief moment, but Hyatt’s recruitment has changed quite a bit in a short time.
In early July, Adam Zagoria reported that Hyatt was taking additional official visits to Seton Hall, Pitt, and LSU. This came after a reported visit to Creighton fell through. While Hyatt visited Seton Hall last weekend, his scheduled visit to Pitt in early August has now been cancelled, as was first reported by Harry Psaros. Then this past Sunday, Hyatt posted on instagram that he was reclassifying to the class of 2018 and that he will be announcing his college decision on August 10th. The news was first reported by our own Dave White. Screen shots of Hyatt’s posts are below.
Just hours later, Adam Zagoria reported per a source that Hyatt was announcing his decision on August 7th and hadn’t decided whether he will reclassify or not. Zagoria did not mention Hyatt’s own post on social media contradicting that report. Welcome to the roller coaster that is high major college basketball recruiting. Add in the fact that Hyatt has tossed the idea around of redshirting next season if he does decide to attend college and there are simply a lot of unknowns about his immediate future. Then on Tuesday afternoon, Hyatt tweeted out the following update:
I’d like to thank all the schools that have recruited me these past couple years. I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and attend college this fall. I will be focusing on these three schools and will make my decision on August 10th. pic.twitter.com/Pk7hU9egbu— Aundre (@aundrehyatt_15) July 24, 2018
This is what we do know: Hyatt is reclassifying to 2018 and will enroll in college this fall. He is choosing between Rutgers, Seton Hall, and LSU. He is visiting the Tigers on August 4th through 6th. A decision will be made on August 10th.
The Scarlet Knights would be a great fit for Hyatt, considering he plays a position of need for the program, would have a green light from the perimeter and the staff have proven they can develop players (ie. Geo Baker & Eugene Omoruyi). While Rutgers has seemingly done everything they can in recruiting him, I’m not optimistic he will end up on the banks. With LSU having the last visit, I’d say they are in good position to ultimately land Hyatt.
The good news is that Pikiell and the staff are well positioned in having just one scholarship open through the 2019-2020 season. While landing Hyatt would be another positive piece to the puzzle, there are plenty of options available and there would be no reason to panic if he chooses elsewhere.
Hoop Group Event
The Hoop Group hosted the Summer Jam Fest at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pennsylvania last weekend. It was nice to see Rutgers being mentioned by a national sports reporter covering the event, as Jeff Borzello covers college basketball for ESPN.
• Florida also watched Scottie Lewis, Igiehon, Harris and Jalen Gaffney— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 19, 2018
• Jeff Capel watched Qudus Wahab and others
• South Carolina, Rutgers, Nebraska, Clemson among the other high-majors here at @TheHoopGroup https://t.co/RPu9BESfxz
In Borzello’s tweet above, he mentioned many players that Rutgers has offered and or hosted on campus in the past year plus, including Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine, Qudus Wahab, Jalen Gaffney, Isaiah Wong, and John Bol Ajak. While Rutgers doesn’t appear to be actively involved with most of them any more, including Lewis and Antoine, two top ten players in the class of 2019, there were many prospects in multiple classes for the staff to watch at this event. There were plenty of high major programs in attendance as well.
While Rutgers likely watched many recruits, we found out today they liked one enough to make an offer.
Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia, Seton Hall, Temple, UConn, Providence, Rutgers, Georgetown, DePaul, Boston College & more here for Expressions Elite vs. City Rocks Orange. '19 Big Man Tre Mitchell, ' 19 PG Noah Fernandes & '21 Terrence Clarke drew a big crowd. @TheHoopGroup— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) July 21, 2018
Terrence Clarke, a class of 2021 wing playing for Expressions Elite (MA), just picked up an offer from Rutgers.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) July 24, 2018
Terrence Clarke is a 6’5” wing from the class of 2021 and plays high school ball for The Rivers School in Massachusetts. He had quite a weekend, as Clarke picked up offers from Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Indiana, in addition to Rutgers. He also has offers from UConn and Georgia Tech, per 247 Sports. The New England Recruiting Report ranks Clarke as the #1 prospect in New England in the class of 2021. ESPN just released their first rankings for the class of 2021 and Clarke is listed as the #2 recruit in the country. He is obviously a big time recruit and Rutgers, once again, is involved early on in the process for a top player. We’ll see if they can get him on campus soon, which would be a great step forward in his recruitment.
The Weekend Tournament at Montclair State
This is not a typical live period event, as high school teams compete instead of AAU teams. What was typical on the recruiting trail was Pikiell being spotted in an empty gym early in the day. Check out this tweet from this past Saturday.
Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell the first coach in the gym this morning pic.twitter.com/OIeOvXiCPP— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 21, 2018
Other big time programs joined him later in the day, including Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Among the Head Coaches here - Calipari - UK, Pikiell - RU, Mack - Louisville, Crean - Georgia, Martelli - St Joes, Henderson - Princeton— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 22, 2018
Many top New Jersey high school programs played at The Weekend, including Roselle Catholic, Don Bosco, Gill St. Bernard’s, Immaculate Conception. Hudson Catholic and the Patrick School, among others. One major prospect was Roselle Catholic’s Kahlil Whitney. Rutgers has recruited Whitney for a very long time and has had him on campus in the past. However, with Kentucky involved and having offered Whitney, in addition to two dozen other programs, landing Whitney is highly unlikely.
Coaches currently watching 2019 @KahlilWhitney of @rc_basketball at Montclair State: John Calipari, Dana Altman, Chris Mack, Tom Crean + assistants from Miami, Illinois, Gtown.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 22, 2018
UK has been in hot pursuit of Whitney.
Steve Pikiell & Jim Christian also in attendance for players. pic.twitter.com/rCMHCelqGt
Someone who was there that the staff certainly checked in on was the point guard of the future for Rutgers men’s basketball, Paul Mulcahy, who played for his school, Gill St. Bernard’s. He was in great form and looks primed for a big senior season before coming to the banks next summer.
Gill St Bernards tops VBA 67-56. Denver Anglin 21, 5 treys. Paul Mulcahy 6 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 22, 2018
Gill St Bernards wins chip 67-52 over Immaculate Conception. Paul Mulcahy 16 points , 9 rebounds and 6 assists— NJ Hoops (@NJHoops) July 22, 2018
Watch the highlights below and visualize him leading the fastbreak at the RAC very, very soon!
NERR Big Apple Showcase
Pikiell was in Ardsley, New York as well earlier in the week and there were plenty of prospects there that Rutgers is recruiting. AAU programs like the NY Rens, NY Jayhawks, PSA Cardinals, NY New Heights and DC Blue Devils (Geo Baker’s old club) were there.
One recruit that I believe Rutgers is making a priority in the class of 2020 is forward Zed Key. Pikiell and the staff offered Key back in early May and he has had a productive summer, adding offers from St. Bonaventure, Tulane, and Florida, among others. The 6’8”, 4-star wing from Long Island should see his recruitment continue to ramp up as he enters his junior year of high school. Here are highlights of Key in action this past weekend in Ardsley.
Clips from @NERRHoops Big Showcase @NYJayhawks @LuHiBasketball @TlrWorldWidellc @KeyPlayerNation @dsportymouth @RealiLuvBBall @LowLifeATH @HSBasketballBR @PantherNasty @overtime @RetweetYou100 @AllThingsHoops @daves_joint @Ballislife @tobias31 #motivation pic.twitter.com/2rMC2sMmbL— Zed Key (@ZedBasketball14) July 20, 2018
Rutgers likely checked in on big man Matt Zona, who they’ve offered and I wrote about here in my live period preview. The Bergen Catholic forward made the game winner for the NY Rens to advance to the finals at the Big Apple Showcase for the class of 2020 division.
I confirmed that Pikiell watched Marial Mading, a 6’10” wing in the class of 2019. He may almost be seven foot, but he has the shooting touch and ball handling skills of a guard after continuing to grow the past couple of years. Mading has picked up offers from Tulane, Rhode Island, and Hofstra this summer per 247 Sports. Prep Hoops profiled Mading in this article and cited an offer from Texas Tech as well. UConn, Pitt, Seton Hall and Georgetown was also watched Mading over the weekend between the NERR Event or at Hoop Group. No offer from Rutgers has been reported, but it will be interesting to see how hard they pursue him moving forward.
Running Rebel’s Marial Mading hits the FT. Able to handle the ball and hit the three at 6-10 pic.twitter.com/iI8WQ7CfUb— NERR (@NERRHoops) July 18, 2018
Yavuz Gultekin is a red hot recruit who has garnered multiple Big Ten offers in the past week plus. The 6’8” wing in the class of 2019 has benefited from strong performances in July so far.
00' Yavuz Gültekin grabbed offers from TCU, Minnesota, George Washington, Nebraska and Northwestern in the past week. 11 NCAA Division I offers so far for the 6'8 Turkish wingman.— Gökberk Yenitepe (@hgyenitepe) July 19, 2018
Pikiell was watching him in Ardsley and he is a player of interest to watch for moving forward in regard to Rutgers looking to fill their lone spot in the class of 2019. By the way, Gultekin plays his high school ball at The John Carroll School in Maryland, the same program where current freshman and former 4-star recruit Montez Mathis played.
2019 Yavuz Gultekin @yavuzgultekin19 has had a strong start to July. He”s trending upward & has looked like top 100 talent. Look for him to continue to excel under @Coach_Prete for his Sr year. Lot growth in one year in the US. @AdamFinkelstein @EvanDaniels @coreyevans_10— Mid Atlantic Select (@MASAAUBB) July 20, 2018
PSA Cardinals & NY Jayhawks Hold Combine
In a unique event, two of the top local AAU programs in the area held a combine together this past weekend. Many high major programs were there and Rutgers had a productive visit.
Approximately 90 college coaches attended today's PSA Cardinals/NY Jayhawks Combine, including Villanova, St. John's, Rutgers and Yale. https://t.co/V6O1lsOMJh— SLAM HS Hoops (@SLAM_HS) July 23, 2018
This week it was reported that Pikiell and the staff made two offer to players they saw at the combine. The first was Shane Dezonie of the PSA Cardinals.
Shane Dezonie, a class of 2021 wing playing for the @PSACardinals (NY), has picked up an offer from Rutgers.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) July 23, 2018
Dezonie played his freshman season at Hudson Catholic in New Jersey and the 6’5” wing received his first high major offer from Rutgers. Expect the staff to watch him often this coming high school season and he is now another player Rutgers is recruiting early on in a prospect’s cycle.
Dariq Whitehead of the NY Jayhawks was also reportedly offered by Rutgers after this past weekend’s combine. The 6’6” wing is from Newark, New Jersey, but plays at prep powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida for former St. Patrick’s School head coach Kevin Boyle. Rutgers is his first offer and the sky may very well be the limit for Whitehead. Rankings aren’t even out for the class of 2022 but I’d say it’s likely he will be rated very high once they do. Pikiell and the staff continue to impress by getting out in front of another future top prospect in their class.
Dariq Whitehead, a class of 2022 6’5 Guard playing for Nyjayhawks 16u, has picked up an offer from Rutgers University❗️ pic.twitter.com/fTzQpQMxoa— Coach Prophet Kates (@CoachProph) July 23, 2018
Here are some old highlights and keep in mind, Whitehead is just 13 years old in these from last year.
The Rutgers coaching staff has been extremely active through the first two live periods of July, as expected. As week three tips off on Wednesday, expect the staff to hone in on targets they’ve watched but haven’t offered yet, as well as check in on players they’ve just offered as well. With the Hyatt decision looming after the live period concludes, Rutgers will continue to explore other options in the class of 2019, as the staff has proven to always be fluid and able to adapt on the recruiting trail. Their ability to get out in front on several recruits in the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 this month has been extremely important. They’ve planted seeds early on in the recruitment of many intriguing prospects and it could really pay off for the staff down the road. We’ll have a full July live period recap after this coming weekend is over.