The offseason is picking up in the college basketball world as recruiting is now in full swing. The late signing period for the 2019 class began last week, coaches now have an open window to contact recruits in future classes and a live evaluation period takes place this weekend. How coaches can recruit will certainly be different this spring and summer, as changes have been made per the Rice Commission’s recommendations last year. Let’s review before covering some recent activity that Rutgers has had on the recruiting trail.
The April live period has just one evaluation weekend instead of two this year and the July live period has been drastically changed. Instead of a three-week period to watch recruits at various events, there will only be the typical AAU format from July 11th-14th. The only other live evaluation periods are with the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June and two live periods run by the National Federation of State High School Associations or the NCAA Youth Development Camp from July 23rd-28th. The Rice Commission made a point to reduce the amount of AAU events coaches could evaluate players, so it will be interesting to see how these new events are run and how well they showcase recruits to the hundreds of college coaches looking to fill out rosters.
As for Rutgers, they have two open scholarships for next season and currently have two open scholarships to use in the class of 2020, as Eugene Omoruyi and Shaq Carter are entering their last season of eligibility. This is an especially critical time for the program, as there are multiple spots to fill in every class and Steve Pikiell is also looking to replace Jay Young with a new assistant coach after he left to take over Fairfield’s program. In addition, Pikiell will also be replacing Bryan Dougher as Director of Basketball Operations, as first reported by Jerry Carino. Dougher, the all-time leading scorer in Stony Brook history and New Jersey native, followed Young to Fairfield as expected to become an assistant coach under him. It’s great next step in his promising career.
With the staff experiencing multiple changes during an important recruiting period, it will take a deft touch from Pikiell to manage this time in a positive way. Both spots remain open and could come from this prospective list of candidates I wrote about here. The good news is that it appears the current staff hasn’t missed a beat and has been very active in the past week. Let’s look at new offers, targets and visits that have reportedly taken place of late.
In regard to filling out next season’s roster, adding a grad transfer would be ideal. It would add a proven and experienced player to the mix immediately, while also opening up another scholarship for the 2020 class. I reviewed some potential targets here previously and one that was a priority, Lehigh grad transfer Pat Andree, has already committed to N.C. State. However, another top target on the grad transfer market has already visited Rutgers, but is considering other schools as well.
Stony Brook transfer Akwasi Yeboah (16.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) has already visited Rutgers, and told @Stadium he will head to both SMU and TCU this week. Also considering Marquette, Clemson and Arkansas.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 24, 2019
Yeboah was recruited to Stony Brook by Pikiell, so it makes sense his first visit since announcing he was leaving the Seawolves would be to Rutgers. However, there is plenty of competition for the 6’7” forward who averaged 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds last season. For a player with just one year of eligibility remaining, priorities for his new team surely include playing time and the likelihood of making the NCAA Tournament. It will be interesting to see what happens with Yeboah, who Jeff Goodman of the The Stadium listed as the 36th best grad transfer available this offseason. While Yeboah’s skill set doesn’t exactly fill the top needs of Rutgers, which are to find a big man replacement for Shaq Doorson and a shooter, he is an established and productive player who would step in and make an immediate impact next season.
As for recruiting high school players, Rutgers has been busy making offers and visiting players in multiple classes over the last week.
Reece Brown was offered last week and is the 31st ranked player in New England for the class of 2020, per the New England Recruiting Report. He is a 6’8” forward that plays for prep school Loomis Chafee in Connecticut. Brown is extremely athletic but raw and could see his recruitment blow up if he has a productive summer. He is from Albany and running with EYBL affiliate City Rocks from that city this summer. It’s a team with multiple players with Division I potential, so he’ll be watched by plenty of high major coaches. Rutgers was the first high major to offer Brown, who has since been offered by UMASS and St. Louis, and holds previous offers from Yale, Stony Brook and Vermont, among others per Verbal Commits.
Another 2020 recruit that Rutgers is targeting is Jaylon Gibson. He is a 6’11” big man from Raleigh, North Carolina that assistant Karl Hobbs is the lead recruiter for and offered on Wednesday. His list of offers includes Providence, Temple and South Florida, as well as garnering interest from several ACC programs. He has grown four inches in the past year and is another player who could see his recruiting profile explode this spring and summer. You can read more about his potential here.
St. Benedict’s Prep is a respected scholastic program in New Jersey and Rutgers was among several schools checking out multiple players on Wednesday.
Siena, Pittsburgh, Monmouth, Harvard, St. Peter’s, Coastal Carolina, Rutgers, FDU, Boston College & Mississippi Valley St. all attended St. Benedict’s Prep’s (NJ) open gym today with ‘20 C.J. Wilcher, ‘20 Toby Okani, ‘20 Adetokunbo Bakare, ‘20 Surpeme Cook & more in attendance.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) April 25, 2019
C.J. Wilcher is a 6’5” shooting guard recruit with a 4-star rating that already holds reported offers from Cincinnati, Providence, St. John’s, Xavier, Minnesota, and Seton Hall. While Rutgers isn’t listed as offering him, they are likely evaluating the talented player.
Toby Okani is a 6’7” wing that plays for the PSA Cardinals on the EYBL circuit and is of interest to Rutgers. While it was reported by one outlet that the coaching staff offered Okani on Wednesday, I don’t believe that to be true, although he could be soon. It’s obvious the West Orange, New Jersey native is on Pikiell’s radar.
Rutgers has been in touch with another 2020 wing in 6’5” Kadary Richmond, per Andrew Slater of The Athletic. He plays for South Shore in Brooklyn and per 247 Sports, Richmond holds offers from Kansas State, VCU, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure among others and is garnering interest from Arizona and Pitt in addition to Rutgers. He is a local player to keep an eye on this summer, as he has the potential to reclassify to class of 2019.
Adam Zagoria reported that Pikiell and assistant Brandin Knight were in on Wednesday to visit Roselle Catholic star center Cliff Omoruyi. Rutgers has recruited the 2020 big man for a very long time, but the competition for his services has gotten extremely stiff. The 4-star center who is 6’11” was offered by Kentucky earlier this month. Other offers per 247 Sports include UConn, Florida, Illinois, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia, Miami, N.C. State, and Rutgers, among others. It would be a major coup for the Scarlet Knights to land the talented and third ranked player in New Jersey in the 2020 class, but as we’ve come to expect during his tenure, Pikiell isn’t timid in battling the blue bloods of college basketball for top local talent. The real turning point in the rebuild of the program is when Pikiell does ultimately land an elite recruit, beating out the best schools in the country. I’m not optimistic it will be with Omoruyi, but only time will tell. (Editor’s note: He is NOT related to Eugene Omoruyi).
In regard to the 2021 class, Pat Lawless reported that Pikiell saw Trey Patterson of Rutgers Prep and AAU club Team Rio on Tuesday. The 6’7” wing is a 5-star recruit and considered a top 25 recruit nationally. There is a long way to go in his recruitment, but Pikiell is working hard to keep this elite prospect in the garden state when his joins the college ranks over 2 years from now.
There are likely other prospects that the coaching staff have either visited or plan to in the coming days. We’ll know more based on who they are seen watching play during the live period this coming weekend. It’s an exciting time to be a Rutgers basketball fan and remember that patience is a virtue. It was just last May that Pikiell and the staff pulled a stunner, landing playmaking point guard Paul Mulcahy. Hopefully, Rutgers can surprise on the recruiting trail once again this spring and summer.
Incoming freshman Paul Mulcahy is the first New Jersey H.S basketball player to AVERAGE a triple-double since 1993.— Rutgers Basketball (@RutgersMBB) April 23, 2019
The Bayonne, NJ native checked in at #99 in the final @espn Class of 2019 rankings, cementing his status as both a Top 100 & 4-Star recruit.
⚔️ #GardenStatement pic.twitter.com/OqLkYUpoSe