clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cliff Omoruyi Returns: What it means for the Scarlet Knights?

Rutgers got a huge boost on Wednesday when its big man decided to return.

Syndication: Asbury Park Press Amy / USA TODAY NETWORK

What a difference one decision can make.

If there was anytime when Rutgers could use some good news, it was after the past few weeks. On Wednesday, that good news came in the form of Cliff Omoruyi announcing that he will return to Piscataway.

Omoruyi competed at the G League Elite Camp in mid May but did not earn an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine. While this was a sign that he would not be selected in the 2023 NBA Draft, his measurable and performance at the camp seemed good enough to earn a spot in the G League or even a contract overseas if he decided to go that route.

Omoruyi measured 6-foot-9 and 243 pounds with a 7-foot-6 wingspan at the camp. This came after a junior year that saw him earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors after averaging 13.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks and shooting 50% from the field.

“I’ve built a legacy at Rutgers. Coach Pikiell has a vision for this program to compete for a national championship next season and I believe in his vision. I plan to fulfill my promise to my mom to finish what I started and graduate with a college degree. I am excited for what’s next to come! Rutgers Nation, Are You Ready?!”

The importance of Omoruyi returning to the banks is extremely important for two reasons — roster construction and timing.

It is hard to ignore the timing of this decision. Omoruyi waited until the deadline to pull his name out of the draft but coincidentally, it came after a rough few weeks for fans. Cam Spencer announced that he was entering the transfer portal while 2024 four-star Dellquan Warren decommitted. (Not to mention five-star NJ native Mackenzie Mgbako decides to commit to Indiana).

If Omoruyi were to pursue a professional career this year, it would leave Rutgers with a huge hole down low. Antwone Woolfolk would have to step into an extended role right away. With the loss of Spencer, Rutgers could have been looking at a rebuilding (or waiting) year until the Class of 2024 arrived.

Omoruyi has proven to be one of the top big men in the Big Ten. He has incredible athleticism, which he displays on both sides of the floor. Omoruyi continues to improve as a post player but this would be his biggest area of concern at the next level. While he is not a true seven-footer, Omoruyi would have to have some moves in his arsenal. This gives him another year to improve his game with the Scarlet Knights — and potentially a midrange jump shot.

Omoruyi has two years of eligibility left but in his announcement, the big man captioned “LAST GO ROUND.” This hints that Omoruyi will end his career with Rutgers after his fourth year and graduating with a degree.

The loss of Omoruyi will be difficult no matter when it came but at least next year, Rutgers will bring in two 6-foot-9 freshmen who will step into the rotation. Five-star Ace Bailey and four-star Lathan Sommerville remain committed to Rutgers for 2024. Let’s not forget a decision from Dylan Harper is on the horizon.

Derek Simpson is going to improve. Gavin Griffiths is coming. Noah Fernandes transferred in. What we know now is that Rutgers will return its All-Big Ten center and keep them in the running for a trip to the NCAA Tournament.