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Rutgers Men’s Basketball Recruiting In Good Position With July Live Period Concluded

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It was a productive month for the coaching staff and many offers were made, as well as several existing targets continued to be actively recruited

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE 8.6.18 11:30 AM: It was reported by multiple sources that Aundre Hyatt has committed to LSU. First reported by Jon Rothstein. I expect Rutgers to roll over the open scholarship for the next cycle being this late in the current cycle. As of now, it’s the only available spot for the 2019 class, in addition to Paul Mulcahy.

Original Story:

Another July live period is complete and once again, the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff was here, there, and everywhere. The third week of the live period took place last weekend and the staff were aggressive, handing out five reported offers. They continued to pay close attention to one of their top targets in the class of 2019 and also watched Paul Mulcahy, Rutgers’ point guard of the future, in the last AAU event of his career. With 4-star wing Aundre Hyatt set to announce his college decision on August 10th, the Rutgers staff continued to grind it out on the recruiting trail this past month. With just one scholarship available through the 2019-2020 season, Pikiell and his assistants were able to focus on future classes during the live period. To catch up on my week one and week two recaps, click here and here. Now let’s review what took place during week three, as well as examine how Rutgers is positioned recruiting wise with the next few classes.

Las Vegas

Rutgers was in Sin City for the premiere event during week three. You may have heard about one game from Vegas on the news due to some NBA player who craves constant attention so much he took away from his own son’s game by getting into a layup line to perform various dunks.

Moving on, head coach Steve Pikiell was on hand at the MADE Summer Showcase watching his future playmaker and 2019 commit, Paul Mulcahy, who was there playing his last AAU event with NJ Playaz. You can watch one of the best games of the live period between the Playaz and Mac Irvin Fire here. In the contest, Mulcahy showcased his passing prowess and ability to lead the break and penetrate the lane, handing out several assists in a overtime loss at the buzzer. Also, if you pause the video at the 19 second mark, you will see Pikiell in the stands on the left side of the screen. It was a smart move for coach to keep a close eye on Mulcahy during such a high profile event, despite his verbal commitment appearing to be as solid as they come. Mulcahy appears fiercely loyal to the Rutgers staff and Pikiell returned the favor by continuing to make him a priority and not take him for granted.

Mulcahy’s teammate with NJ Playaz, Zach Freemantle, had one of the better performances of the July live period and has received offers from Xavier, Penn State, VCU, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Minnesota, and Tennessee in the past month. The Bergen Catholic big man in the class of 2019 continues help his cause in July and it will be interesting to see if Rutgers gets involved with his recruitment.

Another focal point in Vegas for the staff was another long sought after prospect in the class of 2019 for Rutgers, 4-star wing Ismael Massoud, who plays with the PSA Cardinals.

(note on below tweet:Rutgers may have been watching certain players of interest in the Team Takeover vs. St. Louis Eagles, but they were were certainly there for the nationally televised game involving Massoud and the PSA Cardinals taking place directly afterwards.

The top three targets that Rutgers has relentlessly pursued the past couple of years in the 2019 class were Mulcahy, Massoud, and Aundre Hyatt. Mulcahy committed to Rutgers in May. Hyatt, who reclassified to the class of 2018 and is set to announce his decision on August 10th, took an official visit to Rutgers in June and is deciding between them, Seton Hall and LSU. With Hyatt visiting LSU August 4th through 6th, I think their chances are good in landing him. Earlier this summer before the live period began, there wasn’t much reported about Rutgers continuing to pursue Massoud. However, it seems pretty clear after this past month that the staff is very much still involved in his recruitment.

Massoud, who is from the Bronx and plays scholastically for The MacDuffie School, has picked almost a dozen high major offers since April and took unofficial visits to Georgia Tech and Auburn in June, per 247 Sports. He visited Rutgers last June, shortly after they offered him in May 2017. The 6’9” wing is currently ranked the 6th player in the class of 2019 on the New England Prep Circuit by New England Recruiting Report.

Here is a highlight of Massoud scoring a bucket during the nationally televised game last week.

Massoud is known as a knockdown shooter with deep range, but the below highlight demonstrates his awareness, as well as defensive and passing ability.

For full highlights of Massoud in action in Las Vegas last weekend, click here.

There were at least a few other players that Rutgers watched in Vegas, but more on them later.

Orlando

The Prime Event National Showcase took place in Florida and assistant coach Karl Hobbs was spotted scouting prospects in multiple games.

Rutgers was recruiting Akok Akok last year, but seemed to not be prioritizing the 4-star big man from Putnam Science Academy much anymore. It’s not clear if Hobbs was there specifically for him, or was watching other prospects.

One player that Hobbs was definitely focusing on in Florida was Chance Moore, a 6’4” guard from the class of 2021 who can light it up.

Rutgers offered Moore back in May after watching him during the April live period. He is another intriguing player that Rutgers offered before any other high major program got involved. The Atlanta, Georgia native will certainly draw a lot of interest in the future if he continues to play at the level he did this past week.

New Offers

Corey Walker

Rutgers watched Walker in Vegas and liked what they saw, as they offered the class of 2020 4-star wing from Florida on the first day that the week three live period began. He picked up two other Big Ten offers this past month from Maryland and Illinois. Per 247 Sports, Walker holds almost two dozen offers overall, with Florida, Florida State, Georgia, and Xavier recruiting him the hardest. We’ll see if Rutgers can gain any traction with such a sough after recruit that has no local ties to the program.

Dream Vision Trio - Isaiah Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, & Isaiah Cottrell

Rutgers also watched Dream Vision, an Adidas sponsored team from Southern California and ended up offering three players from their program.

Coleman Hawkins, who has the same names as a famous jazz musician, is a 4-star forward from Antelope, California and holds offers from USC, Illinois and Arizona, in addition to Rutgers. The 6’8” big man in the class of 2020 should continue to see his list grow as he develops his game.

Isaiah Johnson is a 6’6” forward from Irvine, California from the class of 2020 and Rutgers was his first offer.

The third Dream Vision player offered by Rutgers in Vegas was Isaiah Cottrell, who is a top 50 forward in the class of 2020. The 4-star recruit plays high school ball for power Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and had a big July, earning offers from Virginia, Syracuse, Marquette, Arizona State, and Vanderbilt, per 247 Sports, in addition to Rutgers. The Pac-12 is all over Cottrell, with Washington seemingly recruiting him the hardest.

It’s interesting that Rutgers made three offers to three west coast players, two of which have plenty of high major interest already. That’s a bit atypical for the staff, but uncovering every stone possible to find talent for the program is not. Whether any of these three recruits ultimately visit campus remains to be seen, but they are intriguing players for sure.

Robbie Beran

The 6’9” big man from Richmond, Virginia had a monster July, as he picked up offers from Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Dayton, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee, per 247 Sports. Add Rutgers to the list and Beren visited Boston College back in June, receiving an offer from them as well. He has over two dozen offers total, but wasn’t garnering much high major interest until this summer. Beran impressed recruiting analyst Evan Daniels as well.

The competition for Beran appears fierce, so Rutgers has to hope to get him on campus in August to gain momentum for the 2019 forward. He would be a solid back up plan for Rutgers if they fall out of the hunt for Hyatt or Massoud.

Final Assessment

Another July live period came and went, but this is likely the last time it will exist in the format it has for the past few years. Led by a commission chaired by Condaleeza Rice, the NCAA is looking to make changes after the recruiting scandals that took place last fall and continue to be under investigation. It appears dramatic changes are coming and that the live period in July 2019 will feature mostly camp-like events organized by the NCAA, the NBA, the NBA Players Association, and USA Basketball, instead of multiple AAU and other sanctioned tournaments that college coaches flock to all month. You can read the details here. Spoiler alert, this idea doesn’t solve any of the recruiting problems that exist in college basketball today. It will also hurt recruits outside of the top 100 in the class rankings, as July has traditionally been a time when lesser known prospects shine on a big stage. Robbie Beran is a great example of that this past month. Nothing has been formally announced, but everyone in the game seems to think these changes are happening. More to come on this topic.

As for Rutgers, the July live period was a typical month of recruiting for the coaching staff during Steve Pikiell’s tenure as head coach. They were extremely active and made almost a dozen reported offers. They probably made a few more that weren’t reported either. They had the luxury of just having to fill one scholarship before the end of the 2019-2020 season, so they were able to prioritize their time by watching many prospects in the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022. It’s a major plus for a staff that had to play catch up their first two seasons to fill out the roster.

With one scholarship open for next season, Rutgers will know whether Aundre Hyatt will be the player to fill it or not on August 10th, I don’t like their chances, but the staff worked extremely hard and really couldn’t have done much more with the White Plains native. Pikiell prioritized Ismael Massoud from the class of 2019 this past month and he would be a major addition to the program if that can land him. It won’t be easy as the competition for his services is fierce. Other players that Rutgers could be seriously considering in the class of 2019 if they miss on Hyatt and Massoud are Robbie Beran, Marial Mading, Yavuz Gultekin, and possibly Zach Freemantle. It’s possible other names could surface in the year ahead as well.

As far as future classes, Rutgers looks very interested in 2020 4-star big man Cliff Omoruyi and 4-star wing Zed Key, as well as Bergen Catholic’s Matt Zona, all of whom they have previously offered. Rutgers is expected to have at least three scholarships available for the class of 2020, which will be a critical one for head coach Steve Pikiell, as he continues to move this program forward. In the class of 2021, Rutgers offered two wings in top ten recruit Terrence Clarke and less heralded, but also an intriguing prospect in Shane Dezonie. Big man Kyle Rhoden from Central Regional is a name to keep an eye on with Rutgers as well. The fact that Rutgers is even in on the recruitment and made offers to several players in the class of 2022, like promising wing Dariq Whitehead, demonstrates how well organized the staff truly is.

With practice for the 2018-2019 season set to begin in less than two months, Rutgers is in a good position overall on the recruiting trail. This coming season will feature an inexperienced, but talented roster that will face a difficult schedule, both in non-conference and Big Ten play. It’s necessary for Steve Pikiell to push this team forward this season, whether it reflects in the overall record or not. There is a strong nucleus of young players that he brought to Rutgers to fulfill his vision for a successful basketball team. Building blocks need to grow this season, in hopes the program can take a significant step forward in the 2019-2020 campaign. If the staff can continue to develop players and the team can flash a more balanced offense this season, it can only help on the recruiting trail with future classes. Perception has changed for the positive under Pikiell and the talent has been upgraded, but more work needs to be done. The good news is that Rutgers is involved with plenty of intriguing prospects and the future for the program continues to look promising in the long term under Steve Pikiell.

UPDATE 8.6.18 11:30 AM: It was reported by multiple sources that Aundre Hyatt has committed to LSU. First reported by Jon Rothstein. I expect Rutgers to roll over the open scholarship for the next cycle being this late in the current cycle. As of now, it’s the only available spot for the 2019 class, in addition to Paul Mulcahy.