Whether Big Ten fans like it or not, the league is stuck with the recent additions of Maryland, Rutgers, and Penn State. And while Maryland has more-or-less carried its weight since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers and Penn State have yet to make much of a mark on the hardwood in its respective Big Ten lifetimes.
That said, all three programs have some news and notes that make them worth the average Big Ten fans attention, so let’s go around the horn to check in with what’s happening for each East Coast team.
Penn State: Tony Carr’s combine performance begs more questions than answers
The former Penn State point guard had a mixed showing in his quest to impress scouts and team executives ahead of June’s NBA Draft. On the positive side, Carr had one of the best shooting performances during drills, where he finished first in left corner shooting percentage, third in right corner shooting percentage, and third in top key shooting percentage.
He also helped his cause with an official wingspan of 6’ 8.25” which puts him only behind Shai Gilgerous-Alexander and his ridiculous 6’ 11.5” wingspan for second among listed combine point guards. This can only help reinforce the narrative that Carr’s length and size will help him be an effective defender at the professional level.
On the flip side, he finished second to last in the max vertical leap, third to last in the shuttle run, and second to last in the lane agility time. Furthermore, Carr was fairly invisible during team scrimmages on Thursday going 0-for-4 from the field with one assist and one steal in 11 minutes of action. And unfortunately a minor injury caused him to miss action on Friday, leaving Carr without an opportunity to improve on that output.
How this all translates as Carr looks to be the first Nittany Lions drafted since Calvin Booth in 1999 remains to be seen. He did have reported interviews with the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Phoenix Suns, all of whom hold mid-to-late second round picks that would mesh with where Carr is likely to be picked.
Maryland: Speaking of the NBA Draft combine…
Twitter was abuzz with the performance of Terrapin Kevin Huerter, who ended up garnering much praise due to his combine performance.
Kevin Huerter also appears to be helping himself so far. Looks automatic from NBA range with his feet set. Passing it well. Putting in a good effort in defensively. He's grown over an inch since last year according to the measurements. Seems to have strong buzz among NBA folks.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2018
No doubt. Excellent showing for Kevin Huerter so far today—he's arguably the best off-balance 3-point shooter in the draft. Clean shooting stroke with deep range, and impressive passing vision for his position. He's a potential riser. https://t.co/f4M6DnEnQA— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 17, 2018
Love what Kevin Huerter brings to the table, as we outline in our extensive preview. Positional size, shoots it on the move, impressive feel for the game. He's had some nice moments so far today.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 17, 2018
NBA combine Day 1 standouts: Kevin Huerter, Donte DiVincenzo, Jacob Evans, Svi Mykhailiuk, Melvin Frazier, Josh Okogie, Jaylen Hands, Sagaba Konate, PJ Washington, Alize Johnson— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) May 17, 2018
Disappointments: Rawle Alkins, Devonte' Graham, Shake Milton, Tyus Battle, Brandon McCoy
This palpable buzz (copyright: @JonRothstein) will undoubtedly make the next week or so a sweaty one for Maryland fans as they wait to see if the 6-foot-7 guard will stay in the draft or return to College Park for his junior year.
A big reason for this attention grabbing performance, beside his prowess from distance which Big Ten fans are quite familiar with, was his performance in individual drills. Huerter was third for the entire combine in the shuttle run, had a sub-11 second lane agility time, and a top six three-quarter sprint.
Who would have guessed that the NBA would fall in love with a 6-foot-7 player with plus speed and agility who is an extremely proficient shooter from three? What’s that? Oh, everyone would? Gotcha.
Rutgers: Don’t look now, but Rutgers is building the damn thing
With the commitment of three-star wing Paul Mulcahy Steve Pikiell kicked off his 2019 recruiting class with a highly sought after in-state prospect.
Mulcahy fielded offers from 15 high profile programs such as Connecticut, Boston College, Florida, Northwestern, and Xavier but made the decision to stay in the Garden State by joining the Scarlet Knights.
His commitment gives Pikiell a major New Jersey prospect for the second straight recruiting class after landing incoming freshmen Ronald Harper during last year’s cycle.
Even more worrisome for the rest of the Big Ten, who’s been able to count on Rutgers’ futility since they joined the league in 2014, is that Pikiell is gaining recruiting momentum and traction along the East Coast. Mulcahy represents his fifth recruit from his extended recruiting footprint in the last three years. The future Knight should play a role from day one for a potentially scary Rutgers team in 2019-’20 that, barring something weird, will also feature rising sophomore Geo Baker and incoming four-star recruit Montez Mathis.