The Scarlet Knights got some good news today with the announcement that 6'9" forward Issa Thiam has decided to commit to Rutgers for a second time. If you recall from earlier in the year, Thiam had originally committed to Rutgers before reopening his recruiting process when former head coach Eddie Jordan was fired.
Thiam, a three star small forward, ultimately chose to stick with Rutgers over the likes of Seton Hall and St. Johns. While the latter two were the other teams in the running, neither was reported as having offered Thiam. Thiam rounds out a forward heavy recruiting class, with the other 2016 commits including JUCO forward Candido Sa and unranked forward Matt Bullock. Steve Pikiell had to try to piece things together in a hurry as the new coach was left with a thin recruiting class and a difficult program to recruit high level talent to as is.
While the recruiting picture at Rutgers currently isn't in a great place, this has to be seen as a win for Pikiell. One of the biggest takeaways here is that Pikiell was able to go out and land one of Jordan's previous commits. The addition of Thiam, as well as a solid JUCO transfer in Candido Sa, at least gives the first-year Rutgers coach some fresh faces to work with. It should also be mentioned that Thiam is now the third player for Rutgers (joining Sa and Shaq Doorson) to come from the Canaris Basketball Academy, with Rutgers developing somewhat of a pipeline to the academy.
Thiam will likely need to bulk up a bit for the more physical Big Ten, but he brings solid size to the table at 6'9" and has shown the ability to shoot the ball from outside at a high success rate. If Thiam can take off at the wing and help spread the floor with his three point shot, while still making plays inside, he could eventually blossom into a major contributor on offense for the Scarlet Knights. At the very least Rutgers needs another player that can hit from deep, especially after last years 32.0% three point percentage (292nd in the nation), a number that slipped even more (30.2%) in conference play.
Here's a brief highlight video of Thiam: