The busy offseason for the Rutgers men’s basketball program continues. They’ve lost an assistant coach and director of basketball operations, as Jay Young and Bryan Dougher left for Fairfield. They added an intriguing walk-on in Daniel Lobach, as well as landing one of the most desired graduate transfers on the market in Akwasi Yeboah. The lineup and rotation possibilities are seemingly endless and there is still one more spot to fill on the roster ahead of next season. In addition, there are three open scholarships for the class of 2020. With the April live period now in the rearview mirror, Rutgers has made several offers to recruits in multiple classes in the past week. I recently covered several offers head coach Steve Pikiell and the staff made within the class of 2020 earlier in April, but let’s get caught up on this past week as well.
A new target to potentially fill the current open scholarship for next season is Hason Ward, a 6’9” forward who plays for Springfield Central in Massachusetts. The class of 2019 big man is super athletic and has seen his recruitment grow recently, having picked up an offer from Rutgers, as well as VCU and Georgia in the past week. 247 Sports also cites offers from Loyola-Marymount, Siena, UMASS, and St. Bonaventure.
New England Recruiting Report wrote this about Ward in January:
“When the ESPN cameras stopped rolling Monday night, there was still one game left to be played and Hason Ward gave everyone who stayed a treat as the long and athletic center went for 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Known primarily as a shot-blocker outside of the MIAA, Ward has been a force around the rim all season long with his ability to score and rebound. He was equally dominant on Monday night, leading Springfield Central to a 70-46 win.”
In a perfect world, Rutgers can find a frontcourt player who can contribute to some degree next season. While Ward is a bit raw and will need time to develop, he wouldn’t necessarily be asked to do too much as a freshman. His size and athleticism would be useful off the bench defensively and on the glass. Ward may want to weigh his growing options for a bit, but it would be key if Rutgers can get him on campus soon. He could end up being another under the radar recruit that Pikiell grabs late in the cycle and develops into an impact player over time. He has that potential.
Josh Gray is another big man, but the 6’11” center is in the class of 2020. The Saint James, New York native plays for the Knox School and AAU power PSA Cardinals. Gray plays with a lot of moxie and could develop into a productive player at the high major level. Rutgers offered him last week and he also holds offers from UConn, St. John’s, LSU, Georgia, and Rhode Island. His profile could expand this summer if he plays well during evaluation periods, although the new recruiting showcases are something everyone will be feeling out for the first time.
Dean Reiber is a 6’9” forward from Greensboro, North Carolina in the class of 2020 that Rutgers offered last week. He plays high school ball for Northwest Guilford and AAU ball with Team Loaded. Of the fourteen reported offers he holds per 247 Sports, only two are from high majors, Rutgers and Penn State. However, they also include NCAA Tournament teams from last season in Wofford, Liberty, and Old Dominion, as well as High Point who is coached by Tubby Smith. He is a stretch four that can hit the mid-range jumper, but can be effective inside as well. The kid plays hard and his development is something Rutgers will certainly keep an eye on. If he visits before the fall, that would obviously be a good sign of his interest level.
Darius Miles is a four star wing in the class of 2020 that Rutgers offered last week. The 6’7” prospect is from Waldorf, Maryland who plays for St. Charles Prep and DC Premier for AAU ball. He also holds offers from Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier, and Rhode Island per 247 Sports. Miles played very well during the April live period and is generating a lot of high major interest. Fellow Big Ten schools Ohio State, Michigan and Maryland have kept an eye on Miles as well, who also visited Pitt last February. It seems only a matter of time before his offer list explodes.
Chet Holmgren is a four star, 7-foot center from Minneapolis, Minnesota in the class of 2021 who is already a highly sought after prospect. Rutgers offered him over the weekend and he also holds over 20 offers including Minnesota, Texas, Purdue, Florida, Gonzaga, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland, Kansas and several other high majors. He is an elite shot blocker who can also run the floor and shoot from the perimeter. Holmgren has a 7-foot-6 wingspan and although he is rail thin, will add weight to his frame as the rising junior develops physically.
Despite being down an assistant, Rutgers is not missing a beat on the recruiting trail so far this offseason. Senior adviser Steve Hayn filled the gap by joining the coaching staff on the road during the April live period. The staff have now made close to a dozen reported offers across three different classes in the past month. Adding Yeboah was a huge win this offseason and if Rutgers can fill the last spot with a player who can contribute up front next season, a deep roster will get even more so. They are also very active with the class of 2020, as having three scholarships available make it an extremely important recruiting cycle for Pikiell moving forward. As the offseason continues, it is an exciting time as the program keeps building the right way under Pikiell.