The Rutgers men's basketball team continues to scout for the future.
The Scarlet Knights have a long way to go to turn the team around but their 2017 prospect plans are off to a strong start with point guard Jose Alvarado becoming the number one target. Rutgers finished with an abysmal 7-25 overall record and won just one game last season in the Big Ten conference, going just 1-17. They finished dead last in their conference.
Rutgers had a promising start with a 3-1 record early in the season, with their only loss coming from a tightly contested 2-point loss against Saint John's College. But their season fell down a slippery slope as their modest start turned into a mediocre 6-7 record. The Rutgers team then completely collapsed with 17 straight losses and with 15 of the 17 losses by double digits. They averaged just 65.4 points per game during the losing streak.
All in all it was a rough year for the Rutgers basketball team.
The best thing going for the Knights is there is no where to go but up. After finishing last, their 2016 freshman class is highlighted by the front court with the new commits of power forwards Candido Sa and Issa Thiam joining the squad. But now the back court is going to be the main focus.
Enter Jose Alvarado.
Head coach Steve Pikiell continues to scout the New York point guard; making him his top priority. ESPN has him marked as a four-star recruit and considering their were only 28 four or five star point guard recruits last offseason, the wrestling match for Alvarado will heat up fast.
Alvarado already has 12 offers from schools and significant interest from many other colleges. Alvarado's interest stands with Rutgers, Butler and Seton Hall presently, with many other schools waiting to pitch him their offers.
Signing Alvarado to Rutgers means more than just a star point guard to orchestrate the offense. This would also mean a bridge for New York talent to the Big Ten school. The Big Apple consistently holds talent for collegiate basketball programs to fight over and a connection to the city puts Rutgers in the fight. It also helps that Brandon Knight, the assistant coach to Pikiell has strong connections to New York recruits.
Alvarado's skill on the court begins with his play making. His on-court vision and ability to facilitate the ball create a unique skill set. The former New York City Catholic High School Player of the Year possesses a strong skill set to attack the basket and finish at the rim while also having the ability to connect from behind the arc.
What puts Alvarado above the competition is his aggressive approach to the game. The grit and grind, physical and sometimes even scrappy approach to basketball is his style, and a unique one at that. While he struggles from Russell Westbrook syndrome (an ability to lose focus and play hero ball) his unique skill set is one not to pass up. Rutgers holds the best chance to pull him into the Big Ten conference.
Time will tell where the gifted point guard lands.