Steve Pikiell recently took over the job in Piscataway and is looking to place the first Rutgers player in the NBA Draft since Hamady Ndiaye. Pikiell almost had a draftee from his former school (Stony Brook) this season with Jameel Warney. Pikiell could finally have his first draft pick in an upcoming draft with Corey Sanders.
Currently, the only former Scarlet Knight really making headway in the NBA is Dahntay Jones. Jones didn’t even play at Rutgers all four years in school, as he transferred to Duke. During his time in Piscataway he had an immediate impact. His sophomore campaign included him averaging 16.0 points per game in a competitive Big East, likely one of the reasons he decided to transfer to the basketball blue blood known as Duke.
Sanders almost left early for the draft this year, but returned to school after not being invited to the combine. Only a rising sophomore, Sanders still has three years of eligibility remaining to develop even more and turn into the NBA prospect many believe he can be.
He averaged 15.9 points per game last season with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds. His usage rate was extremely high for a freshman, the highest on the team. Despite the large quantity of shots, Sanders was able to remain fairly efficient. Rutgers needs to bring in some other scoring options to provide some relief for Sanders.
As the primary point guard for Rutgers, having other options to spread the ball around to and trust with the scoring load is a must for Sanders. Currently, he is too heavily relied on to both score and facilitate. Pikiell’s teams historically have a heavy emphasis on interior presence paired with outside shooting. While Sanders doesn’t exactly fit into that equation, his abilities will be a luxury Pikiell is not used to. It will be interesting to see how Pikiell decides to utilize Sanders in the offense. If one thing is for certain, however Sanders is used it will be in an optimal way because Pikiell knows how to have his players realize his potential.
Aside from Sanders, Rutgers really doesn’t have any serious NBA Draft prospects. The next Scarlet Night to be drafted could very possibly be a player not even recruited yet. The minute Pikiell got to Rutgers he started hitting the recruiting trails hard. It will be really intriguing to see which big men the Rutgers’ staff is able to recruit. With the development Pikiell was able to provide Warney with at Stony Brook, the sky seems like the limit for the more athletic and talented players that will be recruited to Rutgers.
It will likely take a year or two of winning before Pikiell can start landing some big name talent, but when he does he already demonstrated at Stony Brook he can maximize the potential of recruits. Could that potential be NBA Draft caliber? That is yet to be determined, but it definitely is in the realm of possibility. In a few years Piscataway could be a breeding ground for prospects assuming Pikiell’s ability to develop talent continues.