The Rutgers men’s basketball roster for next season should have some clarity in the next week. Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. have until July 7 to withdraw from the NBA Draft. After not receiving invites to either the NBA or G League combines, the chances of being selected in July’s draft appears unlikely. If they do return as expected, the Scarlet Knights will be in a very good position to make a run at the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season.
Even if they do return, depth in the frontcourt is still a concern after Myles Johnson departed as a grad transfer to UCLA. While last season’s backup Cliff Omoruyi is having a good offseason and should be relied upon heavily this winter, there is not a lot of experience behind him. While the coaching staff is high on Dean Reiber and he could develop into a reliable backup next season, he is unproven.
Rutgers fans have been clamoring for another big man to add to the mix and that wish may very well come true very soon. East Los Angeles Community College tweeted on Monday night that former player Ralph Agee is currently on an official visit at Rutgers. The 6’8” forward averaged 11.1 points on 56.9% shooting and 5.2 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game at San Jose State last season. He started 18 of 21 games in his second season playing for the Spartans in the Mountain West conference, improving in every facet of his game. Agee scored in double figures in 13 contests and became the first San Jose State player to earn Player of the Week honors in four season. After scoring 15 points, including the game winning basket in a 1 point win over Air Force, Agee posted career highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds two days later in a double digit win over the Falcons.
Agee an efficient scorer in the post, as he was ranked 177th last season in effective field goal percentage at 57.1% and 271st in true shooting percentage at 58.3% per KenPom. He also gets to the foul line, as he had the 177th best free throw rate in the country last season at 45.0%. Agee is a physical player who can get into foul trouble, but he only fouled out three times in 51 career games at San Jose State, including just once last season.
Defensively and on the glass are areas that Agee will need to be more consistent with wherever he does end up next season. The Victorville, California native has been serviceable from the foul line, making 61.8% on 110 attempts in two years at SJSU. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell has proven to be patient and methodical in how he builds the roster. While the transfer portal had a flurry of activity in the weeks proceeding last season, he didn’t bite until adding LSU transfer Aundre Hyatt in late April. As for Agee, he didn’t even enter the transfer portal until May 13 and now appears a serious option for Rutgers to add as July 4th approaches.
While adding another frontcourt player always seemed like a priority, Pikiell didn’t make a panic move after falling short in April for John Harrar (stayed at Penn State) and Pauly Paulicap (transferred to West Virginia). He waited and let things develop. It now appears that Rutgers is close to adding an experienced big man up front to compliment Omoruyi, Hyatt and Reiber. Even though Agee is just 6’8”, smaller than Omoruyi and Reiber, he played the 5 at San Jose State. Perhaps he could slide over to the 4 and backup Hyatt or play a combination of the two positions. Either way, adding Agee solidifies the depth in the frontcourt.
The next week is crucial for the Scarlet Knights. If Baker and Harper Jr. do ultimately return, there is no reason to doubt that Rutgers will enter next season with the expectation of going dancing in March once again. The potential addition of Agee would be a welcomed surprise and make the roster even stronger entering Pikiell’s sixth season on the banks. Stay tuned.