Steve Pikiell Agrees to Extension at Rutgers

Rutgers fans rejoice. Head Coach Steve Pikiell has agreed to a long-term contract extension keeping him in Piscataway for the foreseeable future. This is huge news for a program that has been a laughing-stock in college basketball for many years, but is finely beginning to trend in the right direction. The number of years or salary of this extension are unknown right now. The deal is expected to be approved later today.

In 2016, Pikiell left Stony Brook after reaching the NCAA tournament and signed a five-year contract with Rutgers. His average salary on his initial deal was $1.6 million per year. While the school had him locked in until 2021, they were wise to extend him sooner rather than later. Pikiell is certainly moving the program in its most promising direction since 2013, when they were still a part of the Big East Conference.

Pikiell hasn’t turned RU into a powerhouse in two years on campus. He hasn’t made them a tournament team or a threat to win the Big Ten. No coach could have done that in two years with the program he inherited. What Pikiell has done however, was change that attitude within the locker room and outside perspective surrounding the program. In doing so, it’s led to the type of marquee wins that help move a program out of the basement.

In year one at Rutgers, Pikiell went 15-18 and 3-15 in the Big Ten. Those are numbers on par with that of Eddie Jordan in his tenure at RU. This year Rutgers is sitting at 11-6 and 1-3 in early Big Ten play. Only time will tell if this season is much different from last from a record standpoint, but it’s clear this team is different.

Corey Sanders hoists the Garden State Classic trophy after Rutgers shocks Seton Hall in Piscataway

One of those 11 wins came against in-state rival, Seton Hall. The Scarlet Knights upset the nationally ranked Pirates at home in December, claiming bragging rights in the state of New Jersey for at least one year. The win was followed by a court storming, something junior guard Corey Sanders said he hasn’t seen in his time on campus. And while wins like this are great for the program, Pikiell knows there is still a lot of work to be done.

And that’s another reason Rutgers was smart to lock him up. He’s a good recruiter.

Pikiell was fortunate to inherit Sanders, who has been the team’s leading scorer each of the last three seasons. This year however, Sanders is getting some help from the outside. Freshman guard Geo Baker has been great, averaging 11.6 points a game and leading the team with 3.7 assists per contest. Mamadou Doucoure has also provided solid role minutes in his first collegiate season. These are pieces that Pikiell and his staff brought in themselves. And there’s more help coming.

Pikiell has landed the commitment of John Carroll’s Montez Mathis, ranked the 93rd best player in the Class of 2018 by ESPN. Mathis, along with Baker and Sanders, will give Rutgers a three-headed attack from the outside. Mathis committed to Rutgers because he wanted to be a part in turning the program around. He will hopefully start a trend of top ranked recruits choosing Rutgers as a destination.

This isn’t an article handing out a participation trophy. Pikiell and Rutgers don’t get moral victories for winning one game or landing one recruit. There’s still a lot to be written in the story of Steve Pikiell and Rutgers Basketball. Today’s news told us that this story will be extended a couple of chapters. Based on the early recruitment, change in culture and overall vibe surrounding the program, Rutgers made the right decision in extending that story.

2016 Spring Jam Fest Day 2 Top Performers

Caleb Green Geo Baker
After a LONG day of hoops, our paths to the championships are beginning to look a little more clear. Here are a few guys who looked good during Day 2:

Clifton Moore Jr | 2017 | Hatboro-Horsham (PA)
Clifton owns big, strong hands which he used to secure the ball tightly once he snatched it high off the glass. He ran the floor hard, and displayed good mobility and athleticism. He showed off a nice jump hook on the low block.

Jaylen Washington | 2017 | Tuscarora (MD)
Jaylen thrived in the open court, where he displayed craftiness and efficiency around the basket. He exhibited the ability to shoot with range from the catch, and communicated effectively on defensive.

Julian Roche | 2017 | Proctor Academy (NH)
Julian worked hard on both ends and did a nice job fronting the post. He was very active, and displayed good agility when hedging ball screens. He finished efficiently around the basket.

Jordan Wilmore | 2019 | DeMatha (MD)
Jordan has a huge wingspan, and used it to block and alter many shots. He ran the floor hard and used his big strong hands to secure loose balls and rebounds. He comfortably made a 10-footer, showing soft touch.

Mikeal Jones | 2019 | Roman Catholic (PA)
Michael showed aggressiveness and a craftiness to score with the basketball. He’s got good size, seems to be growing some more, and looks to be filling out. He was strong in finishing in the paint, and made quick moves facing up to the basket.

Jared White | 2019 | St. Stephens St. Agnes (VA)
Jared does a great job attacking the ball high off the glass and corralling it at the high point. He posted up smaller defenders, and was very efficient from mid range. He finished strong through contact.

Wes Simons | 2018 | Scranton Prep (PA)
Wes has excellent footwork on the low block. He was very scrappy and worked hard on both ends of the floor, and took several charges. He’s a confident shooter from the catch.

Dominique Senat | 2016 | Marinapolis Prep
Nice reason the Boston Warriors are 3-0 is thanks to the play of 6’7 Dominique. Forward is a physical player on the court who rebounds at a high level. He also showcased his ability to finish around the rim and passes well too.

Leo O’Boyle | 2019 | Scranton Prep (PA)
Leo did a nice job boxing out his man, and controlling rebounds with strong hands. He made good passes, and demonstrated a confident and smooth perimeter jump shot. His versatility was well noted.

Geo Baker | 2017 | Proctor Academy (NH)
Geo is a confident and efficient perimeter jump shooter. He exhibits a crafty handle to go along with good vision and passing skills. He’s an excellent athlete.

Cormac Ryan | 2018 | Milton Academy (MA)
Cormac has very good vision, and often makes the right pass. He did a nice job communicating to his teammates, and wasn’t afraid to take and make big shots. He possesses a nice blend of skill and athleticism to go along with a nice feel.

Jalen Gabbidon | Harrisburg Academy (PA)
Jalen showed consistent range on his perimeter jump shot. He attacked the rim relentlessly, and finished effiectively through contact around the rim. He used his length and athleticism to shoot the gaps and create deflections and steals.

Jeffrey Planutis | 2018 | Scranton Prep (PA)
Jeffrey has a terrific overall feel and understanding of the game. He’s active and alert defensively, and has a solid offensive skill set. He made several nice passes.

New England Top 100: Event Synopsis

Player Head Shots

Player Measurements

Player Evaluations

It was a busy week last weekend for Hoop Group Elite. Friday night we were in Philadelphia for the Philly Top 100. From there we traveled up to MIT, where we held the New England Top 100. There’s always a lot of talent in the New England area, and this past Sunday only helped support that. There were a lot of players who showed the potential to play college basketball.

Hoop Group Top 100s not only give you exposure (scroll down to see list of all coaches and scouting services who attended Sunday), but they allow players to raise their skill level twith over an hour and a half of stations and drills. The New England Top 100 had an extra bit of flare when it came to stations as they were run by Coach Mike Rice. Coach Rice put the players through a high intensity workout that had everybody sweating and hungry for more afterwards. Players were fortunate to get first hand teaching from a Coach who has spent 19 years at the Division I level.

Once stations and drills ended, players split up into teams and played in two game sets. It did not take long to see how much talent was in the gym, especially from Notre Dame Prep.

We saw a lot of players from ND Prep, including guard Isiah Ice. Isiah is a very good player who did a nice job running his team Sunday. He was a distributor too, getting his teammates involved and creating opportunities for them to score and be successful. Additionally, we saw shooters Charlie Russo and Patrick Welch; these two guys have good looking strokes and were some of the best shooters we saw on the day. Inside, Prep has 6’7 and 6’8 Jarrell Brantley and Chris Baldwin. Jarrell is very, very athletic. He registered a 31 inch vertical leap, that’s crazy hops! Meanwhile, Chris is just a junior, but is very talented. He owned the glass on Sunday and even showed a nice ability to face up and take his man off the dribble. These two guys are beasts down low. Lastly, we saw Devyn Wilson. Devyn was very fun to watch as he was flying around all over the court. He blocked shots, forced turnovers, ran the floor hard and finished at the rim. He’s very active.

Jarrell Brantley and Chris Baldwin are two big who impressed in New England

Jarrell Brantley and Chris Baldwin are two big who impressed in New England

While we saw a lot of talent from Notre Dame, we also saw talented guys from elsewhere. Ryan Bernstein (Marianapolis Prep ’15) is one of those guys. Ryan is a solid guard with a tight handle. He’s quick, and a good floor general. His game will transfer nicely at the Division II or III level. The same can be said for Ryan Layman (West Springfield ’16). Ryan is 6’4 and athletic. He has nice strength, moves swiftly around the floor and has a high basketball IQ. A combination like that makes for a quality prospect. Then there was Pienkerton sophomore Geo Baker. Geo played well Sunday and showed he has great vision on the court as a guard. He was finding open teammates and making the right play when they needed to be made.

Ryan Layman has the size and strength to excel at the next level.

Ryan Layman has the size and strength to excel at the next level.

Other forwards who impressed included Temi Bailey (West Springfield ’15) and Dominique Senat (Marianapolis Prep ’16). Temi is a tough player who plays extremely hard. He’s only 6’3, but his toughness allows him to rebound over guys who are taller than him. Dominique is a little taller at 6’6 and showed a strong skill set on offense. He liked the face the basket and take his man off the dribble. He also showed an ability to pull up for the bounce. If he continues to improve in that area he could be a major threat offensively.

The New England Top 100 was a great way to end a busy weekend of basketball. Not only did we have a lot of talent in the gym, but we had a lot of veterans. We saw a lot of 2015 players who are unsigned still and could end up being steals for some schools.

The Top 100 Tour rolls on and will be in Baltimore this weekend before making a stop home for Metro Top 100 at Hoop Group Headquarters on October 4th. Still plenty of time to get better and be seen by coaches prior to the high school season. We hope to see you there!

Player Head Shots

Player Measurements

Player Evaluations

All Coaches and Scouting Services at the New England Top 100
National Recruiting Report
New England Recruiting Report
St. Mary’s College
Bard College
Rhode Island College
Trinity College
Elms College
Worcester Academy
Emmanuel College
Wentworth Institute of Technology
St. Aselm College
Merrimack College