As college programs across the country prepare for practices, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are looking to rectify a lackluster inaugural season in the Big Ten. In order to turn around what was a 10-22 season, head coach Eddie Jordan will have to find replacements for team leaders Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack. With many underclassmen on the roster, there will be plenty of room for newcomers to make a splash in 2015.
Freshman point guard Corey Sanders leads the way for 2015 recruits. Sanders is a unique, entertaining guard that will help galvanize the Scarlet Knight fans and bring a sense of excitement back to Piscataway, but fellow Floridian Jonathan Jean Laurent is another freshman worthy of early playing time
The Orlando, Florida (Dr. Phillips High School) product possesses good size for the wing position. At 6'6, 192 pounds, Laurent will be best served running the wing on fast break opportunities and using his athleticism to get easy baskets. The duo of Sanders and Laurent will make Scarlet Knight fans excited about 2015 due to their elite level athleticism and quickness at their respectful positions.
Laurent is also a factor slashing in the half court setting. The 46th-ranked small forward per ESPN has a knack for using his quickness against opposing defenses to cut and get to the rim for easy lob passes.
At a long 6'6, Laurent will be able to be a pest on the defensive side of the ball, and could cause problems for opposing shooters, as he possesses great quickness to close out on the three point line. Passing lanes will also be smaller when Laurent is on the court, as he can use his quick hands to disrupt the offensive attack from opponents.
Areas for Improvement
Shot selection and shot making will have to improve in year one in order to not be a stagnant offensive player. Laurent will be able to contribute right away as a slashing wing player, but will need to become more consistent on his shooting mechanics and jump shot. At 192 pounds, Laurent has a solid frame to work with, but will need to add muscle mass in order to consistently contribute and not get overpowered in the rigorous Big Ten.
Laurent's offensive abilities could get maxed out if he can tighten up his ball-handling skills. The lanky prospect stays too high at times, and will be susceptible to turnovers in the collegiate ranks unless he gets lower and more disciplined with his handle.
The future for Rutgers may not appear that positive just yet, but with Corey Sanders, Jonathan Jean Laurent and Kwe Parker (2016) on board, the Scarlet Knights are on a mission to shift the outlook of the program in the Big Ten towards a positive light.
It's unclear if Laurent will start right away, but with a new season comes new opportunities. Laurent should be a solid, impactful freshman in the Big Ten and could turn into a consistent contributor should he further develop his strength, jump shot and ball-handling skills.