Recruiting: Looking Ahead: Rutgers Class of 2015 Targets

Joe Murphy

In my final "Looking Ahead" piece, I take a lot at Big Ten newcomer Rutgers. More than any other team in the B1G, Rutgers needs to make an immediate splash with their 2015 class to avoid doormat status in yet another conference.

As Rutgers embarks on a treacherous new voyage into Big Ten waters, they are at a distinct disadvantage. Most of their competition are basketball factories with better facilities, historical prestige and a far more impressive resume. The S.S. Scarlet Knight sails into the Big Ten no more than a dinghy amongst aircraft carriers, helmed by head coach, "Fast" Eddie Jordan.

Jordan knows he's stepping into a ring where he'll be an underdog most every night, but if Rutgers is to lure any prospects from B1G country out to Piscataway, they're going to need to consistently compete every single game. Blowouts and embarrassment -- and please, no losing by 61 to ANYONE, especially in the conference tournament --  must become a thing of the past. Four- and Five-Star recruits don't want to play for a punching bag.

The 2014 season will have a profound impact on Rutgers recruiting moving forward, establishing the program as a potential college basketball hotbed nestled in-between New York and Philadelphia with ties to Midwest recruits, or as a bottom-feeder destined for jokes and misery.

Fortunately, Rutgers has a bit of a leg up on the 2015 recruiting front. They already have verbal commitments from Leroy Butts (I'm just going to leave that one alone. Do with it what you will.) and Austin Burnette. Jordan has three more scholarships to play around with, assuming the B & B boys stay on board.

Rutgers currently has 20 scholarship offers out to Class of 2015 recruits. Let's take a look at some of the big names on Rutgers list, and some of the more feasible possibilities.

Verbal Commitments

Leroy Butts

Position Small Forward/Power Forward
Measurements 6'7", 180 lbs. (Recent reports have him at 200 lbs.)
High School Clinton Christian School (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
247Sports Rankings No. 36 PF, No. 147 National
Commitment Date 11/8/2013
Held Offers From: Miami, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Penn State, DePaul

For reference, Butts is No. 5 in the above video

UPDATE: Butts de-committed from Rutgers on June 23. Rutgers is still on his list, but his recruitment is officially reopened.

Butts is a young man that, like many high school prospects in a system that has increasingly bred an inherent sense of entitlement, has a hard time with commitment. Already during his high school career he has played for Bishop O'Connell and Clinton Christian School. For his senior season, Butts is taking his talents to South Beach ... well, almost. He is going to be playing at the Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Fl. The fact that his four high school seasons will have been spent with three different programs has to have Jordan and his staff a bit nervous, even if they won't admit it, and even if Butts has made no proclamations of possible defection from Rutgers. Butts has spent the last several months playing for DC Premier with somewhat underwhelming stats -- 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in nine games on the Under Armour Association circuit. He only had one assist in those nine contests, but that may be more an indictment of AAU ball's innate selfishness than any wrongdoing or lack of passing skill on Butts' part. Butts' has tremendous length and has packed some muscle onto a thin frame (Reportedly at close to 200 lbs. now.). He's got some long limbs but moves about the floor very well. His game is in need of some fine-tuning, but that's what he expects to get at Elev8 this coming season. Butts' is an excellent foundation for a solid recruiting class, but he's not the kind of overwhelming talent that can carry a class all by himself. Check out this link for a deeper look into the soft-spoken Butt's junior season at Clinton Christian.

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Austin Burnette

Position Small Forward
Measurements 6'6", 205 lbs.
High School Needham Broughton High School (Raleigh, N.C.)
247Sports Ranks N/A
Commitment Date 10/2/2013
Held Offers From: Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Western Carolina, Charlotte

Burnette -- the first domino to fall in Jordan's 2015 recruiting scheme -- is certainly not gun shy. The fact that the 6'6", 205 lbs. forward can dominant smaller high school competition he sees on a nightly basis is not lost on the young gunner. He is comfortable in the post, backing down smaller defenders and making good use his size and athleticism to get a shot up over them. He is ranked as a 2-Star recruit by most scouting services, but another season of development without recruiting weighing on his mind should provide some growing opportunities. Burnette is likely a development project, but Jordan seems to like what he sees and should give him proper tutelage when he gets to Piscataway in 2015. If Burnette can have a big senior season and get upgraded to a 3-Star prospect, Rutgers could be looking at a top-40 class, if a few other recruiting pieces fall.

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Guards

Isaiah Briscoe

Position Point Guard
Measurements 6'3.5", 200 lbs.
High School Roselle Catholic High School (Roselle, N.J.)
247Sports Ranks No. 3 PG, No. 14 National
The Favorite Arizona
In the Mix Rutgers, UConn, Louisville, Seton Hall, St. John's, Duke, Florida

The near future of Rutgers basketball quite possibly hinges on the decision of highly-touted combo-guard Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe is attempting a transition to a point guard, after spending most of his career in more of a 2 spot. Whether the transformation goes smoothly is mostly irrelevant to Jordan; this young man is one of the most talented scorers in America. His first step is a lightning strike and everything that comes after leaves the defense looking as if they had actually been struck by the very bolt that fell from the sky when Briscoe made his move. A routine run in transition often leaves two or three defenders looking foolish, and Briscoe's demeanor tells you all you need to know about any compassion he holds for his foes. His ability to get to the rim seemingly at will, with a well-developed body and an arsenal of fool-making crossovers, opens up opportunities for threes and mid-range jumpers, which he has been knocking down at a more consistent clip. This past season at Roselle Catholic Briscoe averaged 22.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He was also a member of the 2013 Nike Global Challenge team, pouring in 10.8 points in 23.8 minutes per game against some of the best young talent from around the globe. If Briscoe ends up in Piscataway, Rutgers will be assured of a top-20 class and, perhaps more importantly, gain some recognition as a legitimate destination for top tier high school talent. Rest assured Jordan and Rutgers are pulling out all the stops for what could be the crowning jewel of Rutgers 2015 class.

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Levan "Shawn" Alston

Position Point Guard
Measurements 6'4", 165 lbs.
High School Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.)
247Sports Ranks No. 19 PG, No. 81 National
The Favorite Temple
In the Mix Cincinnatti, Notre Dame, VCU, Rutgers, Penn State, Boston College, Wichita State

I already covered Alston's exceptional talents in my Penn State recruiting piece last week:

Alston is fresh off a prodigious EYBL campaign with Team Final, finishing as regular season champion with a 14-2 record. Alston averaged 14 points on 48% shooting (43% from three), 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 2.6 steals. Alston had games of 33, 28 and 25 points during his teams dominant run. While listed as a point guard, and certainly capable of making exceptional passes, Alston is far more interested in scoring the rock himself, which is just fine, considering the ease with which he gets buckets. While Alston's frame resembles that of a scarecrow, his Mr. Fantastic wingspan makes him a capable defender (He had seven games with 3+ steals during the 16 game EYBL season). He runs the court with a natural ease and manages to finish through contact, despite his slight frame.

If Rutgers is denied by Briscoe they may wind up making a bigger push for Alston to fill a pressing need in the backcourt. Rutgers is a relative newcomer to the tug-of-war over Alston, having just offered him a scholarship this week. Alston is more of a scoring guard, like Briscoe, but less developed. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.5 assists per game at Haverford in his first real season manning the point guard position.

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Trey Lowe

Position Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Measurements 6'6", 175 lbs.
High School Ewing High School (Ewing, N.J.)
247Sports Ranks No. 41 SG, No. 157 National
The Favorite ???
in the Mix Rutgers, Seton Hall, Drexel, Temple, St. Joseph's, Villanova

Lowe has excellent size for a 2. His lateral quickness and overall lankiness grant him the ability to guard the 1-3 positions on the floor. His body needs some work, something he has spoken adamantly about improving during the summer. He carries a scorer's mentality into every game. A recent growth spurt has left him looking a bit like a newborn gazelle running around on the court. It's clear to see the athletic potential within Lowe, and while it still looks like he's acclimating himself to these new long limbs, it's only a matter of time before some training refashions those awkward moves into graceful pirouettes. Lowe has done a lot of work extending his shooting range, but his release is still slow, meaning he'll have a difficult time getting jump shots off with a defender draped over him. His explosiveness and upper body strength really need some work, but the still growing swingman has begun tantalizing a number of East Coast programs. Should Jordan make a strong push for Lowe, there's a moderate chance he ends up a Scarlet Knight.

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Forwards

Matt Ryan

Position Small Forward
Measurements 6'7", 210 lbs.
High School Iona Preparatory School (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
247Sports Ranks No. 23 SF, No. 118 National
The Favorite Notre Dame
In the Mix Duke, North Carolina, Rutgers, Boston College, Arizona State, Creighton, West Virgina

We all have a purpose in life, something inherent in our genes that just comes naturally to us. For Matt Ryan, that inherent something is his sweet, silky shooting stroke. He's not going to create many buckets for himself at the college level, but the 6'7" wing can run around screens all day and knock down threes without a second thought. When some players shoot, you can see their face get a bit scrunched and even perturbed, as they are committing the cardinal sin of shooting -- thinking about shooting. Watching Ryan pull up for a J, you see this is a sin the young man never commits. His no hesitation release is silky and accurate. Give him a foot and you're dead. Ryan only played eight games this past season (19 ppg, 8 rpg) before a torn labrum forced him to shut it down. All indications are that Ryan is healing well, meaning the demand for his services will hit a fever pitch this summer. Going up against Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame, among others, means that Rutgers is at a clear disadvantage. It's highly unlikely, but a commitment from Briscoe, in the same fashion as those slightly creepy MiO commercials, could change everything.

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Chris Silva

Position Power Forward
Measurements 6'9", 210 lbs.
High School Roselle Catholic High School (Roselle, N.J.)
247Sports Ranks No. 28 PF, No. 126 National
The Favorite Villanova
In the Mix Cincinnati, Creighton, Rutgers, Georgetown, Miami, Syracuse, Rhode Island

A raw physical specimen still learning the finer points of the game, Silva exudes potential with every stratosphere-straddling block and each gym-rocking throwdown. Silva is long and lean and still growing. His unpolished game and raw offensive displays remind me a bit of Anthony Randolph, a prospect once oozing with potential who has managed to stick around in the NBA because of his ability to rebound and block shots, despite a glaring lack of any seemingly coherent offensive abilities. Silva averaged 8.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game playing alongside Isaiah Briscoe at Roselle Catholic this past season. Landing the pair would easily be the biggest recruiting coup in recent Rutgers history. Silva is said to be leaning towards Villanova, but this summer could see some bigger schools swoop in for a chance to land the titillating young forward.

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Sam Miller

Position Small Forward/Power Forward
Measurements 6'7", 215 lbs.
High School Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.)l
247Sports Ranks N/A
The Favorite ???
In the Mix Rutgers, Gonzaga, Penn State, American, Lehigh

Think of Miller as the underground version of Matt Ryan; less heralded, but in possession of a more complete all-around game. If Miller were a car, the salesman would sell you on his rhythmic release and smooth J, but during the test drive, you'd realize there are so many features you weren't even aware of, and you love them all -- his ability to finish through contact, willingness to engage in a grown man's game in the post on both ends of the floor and excellent passing ability. If Miler's sturdy frame is gifted with another inch or two the suitors for his services could wind up forming a very long list. As it stands, Miller is an interesting, albeit lesser known prospect that has very interesting potential as a possible stretch four.

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Jarred Reuter

Position Power Forward
Measurements 6'8", 235 lbs. (With reports ranging up to 250 lbs.)
High School Brewster Academy
247Sports Ranks No. 41 PF, No. 188 National
The Favorite ???
In the Mix Rutgers, Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island, St. John's, Boston College, Pitt, Providence

Ninety-Nine out of 100 times Reuter's hulking body stomps onto a basketball court against high school competition, he is going to be the strongest man on the hardwood. His premiere strength is a staple of his game and he loves throwing his body around in the paint. Despite his age, Reuter has a more polished post game than most NBA players in an age where back-to-the-basket kings like Zach Randolph and Al Jeffersonn are, sadly, the last of a dying breed. It's footwork over flash for Reuter, although he can throw a little dazzle in there now and then. He possesses a beautiful up-and-under in addition to some nice jab steps, spins and fakes. His interior passing, especially to slashing guards and small forwards, is very advanced for this stage in his development. With his body type, he's going to have a difficult time guarding quicker 4's who prefer to play facing the basket, an ever-increasing component of today's basketball world. Nonetheless, a player like Reuter could bully his way under the basket to several easy buckets on a nightly basis, and could really excel in a slower-tempo offense.

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Other Rutgers Top-101 Scholarship Offers

Carlton Bragg No. 3 PF, No. 9 National The Favorite: Kentucky
Derrick Jones No. 6 PF, No. 26 National The Favorite: Syracuse
Georgios Papagiannis No. 9 C, No. 28 National The Favorite: Maryland
Esa Ahmad No. 11 PF, No. 57 National The Favorite: Ohio State
Bryant Crawford No. 17 PG, No. 76 National The Favorite: Louisville
Aaron Falzon No. 24 PF, No. 101 National The Favorite: Boston College
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