Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
While good news has been tough to come by for the Rutgers basketball program in recent years, head coach Eddie Jordan and his staff received a much-needed boost in the form of their first 2016 commitment Sunday afternoon.
Four-star shooting guard Kwe Parker announced on Twitter that he’s decided to join the Big Ten program. Once known primarily for his ability to finish well above the rim, the Charlotte native has made strides in other areas of his game including perimeter shooting. Along with current freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college transfer forward Deshawn Freeman, Parker gives the Scarlet Knights another option they can build around for the future.
“After months of contemplating on my college decision, I’ve chose [sic] to continue my basketball career with Coach Jordan at Rutgers University,” Parker tweeted.
Parker plays a position where the Scarlet Knights will lose two players at the end of the 2015-16 season in Bishop Daniels and Omari Grier. Guards who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2015-16 season include Sanders, Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson (junior who will sit out this season), Mike Williams (sophomore) and Justin Goode (freshman).
Parker picked Rutgers over Florida, Florida State and Wake Forest.
After emerging as one of the top athletes in the Class of 2016, guard Kwe Parker has improved his overall game to the point where he’s considered to be one of the top 100 prospects in the class. Rivals.com has Parker ranked 90th in the Class of 2016, and the four-star prospect is one many high-major programs have reached out to.
Sunday morning Parker revealed his final four schools via Twitter, and also indicated that a decision on where he’ll attend college could be coming soon. The programs in the running for his commitment are Florida, Florida State, Rutgers and Wake Forest.
While Parker’s taken a number of unofficial visits, including two to Wake Forest, the Wesleyan Christian product has taken just one official visit thus far. Parker officially visited Rutgers in mid-June, leaving Florida and Florida State as the schools he’s yet to visit in any capacity. The Scarlet Knights will lose Bishop Daniels and Omari Grier at the end of the 2015-16 season, meaning that they can use a perimeter player of Parker’s caliber as head coach Eddie Jordan attempts to get things going in New Jersey.
Florida State’s an interesting finalist for Parker’s services, as Leonard Hamilton and his staff have enjoyed a very successful run on the recruiting trail in the 2015 and 2016 classes. In 2016 the Seminoles already have three commitments: guards Trent Forrest and C.J. Walker and small forward Jonathan Isaac.
With that being the case, and Boris Bojanovski and Michael Ojo both being seniors this upcoming season, one would assume that Florida State will emphasize big men for the remaining spots in their class.
Florida doesn’t have a single senior on its perimeter heading into the 2015-16 season, with Kasey Hill and Devon Walker being the lone juniors. First-year head coach Michael White was able to hold onto three of the four players who committed to the program when Billy Donovan was in charge, including guard KeVaughn Allen and small forward Keith Stone.
Wake Forest has just one commitment in the 2016 class so far in guard Brandon Childress, and with Codi Miller-McIntyre and Madison Jones both being seniors more perimeter options would not be a bad thing for Danny Manning as he looks to rebuild the program. The Demon Deacons are also in the race for five-star prospects Dennis Smith Jr. and Harry Giles, talents who won’t lack for attention as they move closer to making their respective college decisions.
Rutgers has another scholarship to work with after the school released Class of 2015 commitment Kejuan Johnson from his Letter of Intent. The news of Johnson’s release was first reported by Scout.com‘s Evan Daniels.
The 6-foot-6 Johnson attended Hargrave Military Academy this past season. According to Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey, Johnson was having difficulty gaining admission into Rutgers and that could have played a part in the decision for the split.
An undersized forward who can rebound and finish near the hoop, Johnson is originally a native of Atlanta. With Class of 2015 options being limited at this point, Johnson could hear from a couple of programs still looking for depth for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
Johnson is considered a three-star prospect, according to Rivals.
Now that the season is over for Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers, he has a chance to play pick-up ball in his native Florida against some high-level incoming college freshman. Rivers, a former Duke guard, is a bit of a mixtape legend of his own in high school and he went against two talented future college players in LSU rising freshman Antonio Blakeney and Rutgers rising freshman Corey Sanders.
The pick-up game occurred in Winter Park, Florida and Home Team Hoops was there to film the highlights.
Rutgers’ first season as a member of the Big Ten wasn’t a smooth one by any stretch of the imagination, as they won just ten games (2-16 in conference play) and ranked at or near the bottom of many of the major statistical categories both offensively and defensively.
And with contributors such as Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack out of eligibility, there’s room for others to step forward in 2015-16. Friday afternoon Rutgers picked up an experienced guard who will look to earn a spot in their rotation as a graduate student.
Former Bradley guard Omari Grier, who averaged 7.9 points per game as a redshirt junior, announced that he’s decided to play his final season of college basketball at Rutgers. As a graduate student, Grier will be eligible to play immediately for the Scarlet Knights.
Grier, who played his freshman season at FAU before transferring to Bradley, started 11 of the 30 games he played in and averaged nearly 23 minutes of action per contest. Grier shot 37.8 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc for the Braves, and in his first season as a member of the program (2013-14) he scored 10.4 points per game.
Grier joins a Rutgers backcourt that, even with the loss of Mack, is a bit crowded from a numbers standpoint. Bishop Daniels and Mike Williams return from last season’s rotation, with freshmen Corey Sanders and Justin Goode joining the program this summer. Rutgers also adds Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson, but he won’t be eligible to play in 2015-16.
In total Rutgers is adding seven players to the program, with wings Deshawn Freeman (junior college transfer), Jonathan Laurent and Kejuan Johnson having made their pledges as well. As of right now the program is one scholarship over the limit of 13 according to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press, so the roster shuffling likely isn’t done at Rutgers.