In the weeks leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.
Today’s edition of the ‘BTPowerhouse Preview Series’ will focus on the wings for Rutgers. There will be a lot of turnover at the small forward position for Rutgers for the upcoming season.
'BTPowerhouse Preview' - Rutgers Backcourt:
- 2015-’16 All-Big Ten Qualifiers: None
- Key Departures: D.J. Foreman, Bishop Daniels
- Additions: Issa Thiam, Eugene Omoruyi, Matt Bullock
- Top Player: Deshawn Freeman
The turnover on the wing can only benefit the Scarlet Knights next season. If anything, new head coach Steve Pikiell has size to work with and should be able to give teams a couple different looks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of question marks that come with that size.
Last years time on the wing was split by both Bishop Daniels and D.J. Foreman. That rotation may have looked a little different if 6’7” forward Deshawn Freeman did not suffer a leg injury which sidelined him for most of the season. Freeman, a Hutchinson Community College transfer, got off to hot start in his limited action last season. Freeman is really the only returner on the wing and will likely get the first crack at the starting rotation.
Freeman was also previously suspended under former head coach Eddie Jordan. As difficult as it may seem, Freeman may been looked on for veteran leadership. Now in his fourth year (redshirt junior) he is one of the most experienced players on this inexperienced team. What this really speaks to is the inexperience of Rutgers.
The wings on the bench will be raw. Their familiarity with the Big Ten will be green. All that being said, the wings could be the biggest surprise for Rutgers this season. Fans should expect 3-4 players to see time on the wing, with many of those players seeing the floor at the same time.
Coach Pikiell will not be short of options should Freeman prove to be a flash in the pan or to go with different lineups. Fans should expect Rutgers to utilize their size and athleticism on both ends. The Scarlet Knights will be able to use freshman stretch four Issa Thiam on the wing should they run into a team with an inordinate amount of length.
When in need of a smaller yet more athletic lineup Pikiell will be able to turn to 6’6” Canadian Eugene Omoruyi. An alum of Orangeville Prep, one of the best prep academies north of the boarder, Omoruyi is a break out candidate. His high motor and leaping ability make him an excellent shot blocker. He is extremely versatile. His ability to pass, shoot and defend three positions have drawn comparisons to Draymond Green by some Canadian recruiting services. That might be a little excessive but Rutgers fans should be excited about their potential diamond in the rough.
Who will be the starter on the wing on opening night may be dictated by who plays the other positions. The versatility of the potential candidates could land them starting roles at other positions.
Things will become more clear following Rutgers non-conference schedule. The Scarlet Knights will be tested early and could use these games to sort out the many question marks at the position. Corey Sanders and the guards may be the most sure thing next season, but the wings certainly have the most potential.