The Scarlet Knights' inaugural season in the Big Ten was not a pretty one. After struggling through the non-conference, Rutgers won two of their first four Big Ten games before losing 15 straight to close out the year. Following the end of the season, Rutgers would see six different players leave the team, thus adding insult to injury. Now, three of those were graduating seniors including team leaders Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack. However, the other half were transfers, including reserve guard Khalil Batie and freshman Ryan Johnson who redshirted last year. The biggest transfer however, was sophomore and leading rebounder Junior Etou leaving for Tulsa.
Rutgers was able to reload with a solid three player recruiting class and the addition of junior college transfer Deshawn Freeman and grad transfer Omari Grier from Bradley. The Knights also brought in guard Nigel Johnson from Kansas State, but he will have to sit out this upcoming season. All these changes mean that this season's roster looks a lot different than last year's, but will that mean different results on the court? We'll have to wait and see how the new and returning player gel and meet their potential as a team. So let's take a look at the guys who will need to be the catalysts for an improved Rutgers squad.
Bishop Daniels, G, Jr.
Daniels is a junior and the leading scorer of the players returning from last year's team. A former Miami Hurricane, Daniels arrived at Rutgers last season after excelling at the junior college level for a year. He will need to use all of that experience to try and help lead this team to a turnaround. Not only will Daniels be expected to carry most of the scoring load this year, he will also need to step into a leadership role. This was Mack and Jack's team before, but for the next two seasons Daniels will need to make it his.
Greg Lewis, F, Sr.
This will be Lewis' fifth year at Rutgers after arriving with Mack and Jack in the class of 2011. The big man led his team in blocks last season, but will need to increase his production on offense and defense to help fill the void left by Jack and Etou inside. Lewis averaged nearly 24 minutes a game last year, and unless Shaquille Doorson or one of the other young Rutgers bigs develops quickly, Lewis will likely see increased playing time.
Lewis was a captain last season and should be one again this year. If he can lead by example and turn in performances like the one he had on Senior Night against Maryland last year than RU might surprise a few people. Lewis played 37 minutes and scored a career-high 14 points against one of the conference's best teams before fouling out. Rutgers will need Lewis to be a leader and rim-protector, but if he can add in consistent scoring that could really help get this team some much needed wins.
Corey Sanders, PG, Fr.
Sanders is easily the best recruit the Scarlet Knights have seen since Myles Mack, the player he is expected to come in and replace immediately. The young man from Lakeland, Florida is a top 100 recruit according to almost every recruiting site and is expected by many to start right away. His predecessor, Mack, led the team in Minutes, Points, Assists and Steals per game last season. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.
RU will need a lot of help to turn things around, but these three will likely see most of the minutes and have the greatest impact on the success of a hungry team.