In January, during a win over Indiana, Rutgers fans chanted “We Want Cliff” throughout a sold out RAC. On Sunday, their wish was granted, as the talented 4-star big man and top 50 national recruit committed to head coach Steve Pikiell and the program.
After taking official visits to Auburn, Arizona State and Rutgers, Omoruyi chose those schools as his final three, deciding to not move forward with official visits to UConn and Kentucky. His last visit was to Rutgers in late February and a good portion of the team, along with the entire coaching staff, attended Omoruyi’s county championship that Saturday night. It was a huge show of support for the big man, who ultimately chose to stay in New Jersey for his college career.
The Nigerian native is the highest ranked recruit to become a Scarlet Knight since McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario came to Piscataway 13 years ago. Omoruyi is currently ranked as the 41st best prospect in the nation, as well as 3rd in his class in New Jersey and 8th overall at his position per 247 Sports composite rankings. He was also recently named Gatorade’s New Jersey Player of the Year.
As a senior on a 21 win Roselle Catholic team, the 6’11” Omoruyi averaged 14.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game. He also has over a 3.0 GPA and plans to pursue an engineering degree at Rutgers. His excellence on and off the court make him a tremendous addition to the program.
Regarding Omoruyi’s skill set, he is tremendous defensively and as a rebounder with a 7’5” wingspan, giving him the potential to be the most dominant inside player Rutgers has had since former Big East Defensive Player of the Year Hamady N’Diaye. His athleticism and explosiveness also give him the potential to become a very good offensive player. He is already a show stopping dunker and will be an asset with Rutgers utilization of the alley-oop pass. He’ll need time to develop a true post up and mid-range game, but under the tutelage of Pikiell and his staff, he’ll have every opportunity to grow in that area.
It’s amazing to think that Rutgers has the potential to be even better defensively next season after achieving the 6th best defensive efficiency in the nation this season, but that’s a reasonable expectation now. Pairing Omoruyi down low with another 6’11 player in Myles Johnson will also make Rutgers difficult to deal with on the glass even more so than this past season, when they continued to be a strong offensive rebounding team.
In addition, this is a massive win on the recruiting trail for Pikiell and his staff. Landing a top local talent that was a national recruit is a huge statement for this program and a great step forward after its first 20 win campaign in decades. Pikiell has long said better days were ahead for Rutgers and this month has been tremendous in pushing the program forward.
Pikiell has now landed his top target in each of the last three recruiting classes. Montez Mathis was a 4-star in 2018, Paul Mulcahy a high 3-star in 2019 and now Cliff Omoruyi, the highest rated of them all. Pikiell offered him his freshman season soon after he took the job at Rutgers and made him a priority ever since. Assistant Brandin Knight has been crucial to the overall recruiting success that Rutgers has had with Pikiell as well. The program is officially on a roll with recruiting, as 4-star wing and top 100 prospect Jaden Jones became the first to commit to Rutgers’ 2021 class.
The 2020 class is now anchored by Omoruyi and complimented well with another big man, stretch four Dean Reiber, as well as wings Mawot Mag and Oskar Palmquist. All are 3-star prospects. As of now, there are no available scholarships for next season’s roster. However, a spot could open up if someone decides to leave, something that is commonplace in college basketball these days. If that does happen, expect Rutgers to strongly pursue impact grad transfer players. Before the addition of Omoruyi, the 2020 recruiting class ranked 64th nationally and 11th in the Big Ten per 247 Sports. Now, the class is ranked 31st nationally and 6th best in the Big Ten.
Rutgers basketball continues it’s ascent within the Big Ten and nationally, as the addition of Cliff Omoruyi is the latest sign it’s only a matter of time before this program becomes truly elite under head coach Steve Pikiell.
Below are senior highlights of Omoruyi.