The Scarlet Knights face a severe lack of depth at the wing this season. With freshman Ryan Johnson ineligible this season, that depth issue is further magnified. Now that JJ Moore has graduated and is no longer with the team, Junior Etou will be forced to log a ton of minutes. With no true small forward on the team, there will only one wing will start opening day.
The big star for Rutgers at the wing position is sophomore Junior Etou. He scored only 5.3 PPG last season on 23 minutes a game. Those numbers aren't anything that jumps out of the scorebook, but Etou is full of potential. He has played in the power forward position for most of his basketball career, but will shift over to small forward this season due to lack of depth in the backcourt. Etou's strength is defense. Coach Eddie Jordan called Etou an "NBA-level defender right now."
The 6'7" 230 pound Etou averaged 4.6 RPG last season, and has a long athletic body that can block shots around the rim. Etou has an athletic pedigree; his cousin is Oklahoma City Thunder center Serge Ibaka. It will be important for Etou to improve his shot (25.6% from three) this season so he can be a more traditional small forward. Etou is the perfect compliment for power forward Kadeem Jack in the Rutgers lineup.
Off The Bench:
The first wing off the bench is Malick Kone. The senior played 16 minutes a game last season, and has been a role player his entire career in Piscataway. He scored only 3.5 PPG and had 2.7 RPG last season. His role on the team this year will be to give Etou a rest and provide strong defensive minutes off the bench. He will also be looked to as a leader who has had meaningful minutes in all four years with the team.
The next man off the bench will be Kerwin Okoro. Okoro suffered a knee injury early in the 2013-14 season, and only played in 12 games after returning in January. The former Iowa State transfer is healthy this season, and will play an increased role with the team. Okoro started to find himself at the end of the season last year, earning career highs in minutes (18) and points (9) against Cincinnati.
There isn't much on the team behind Etou, Okoro and Kone. Lack of depth at all positions is continuing motif on this Rutgers team, and the wing position is no different. Without much experience and talent off the bench, this team is going to struggle in the physical Big Ten. A rotation that goes 7 deep isn't going to succeed in the Big Ten, no matter how talented those players are.