Experts Weigh In On Rice's Class

Rutgers coach Mike Rice has been on the job five months, but his impact has the Scarlet Knights faithful thinking the RAC could again be rockin' soon. He has put together a stellar recruiting class, and in the process is making a splash in the Big East. How did he do it? Scout.com's recruiting experts gave ScarletReport.com the insight as to what transpired, and why Rice has been so successful.

Forget ranking. Rutgers' 2011 recruiting class features three four-stars and two top 100 players.

The team rankings are yet to come out, but Dave Telep, Scout.com's national recruiting director, told ScarletReport.com the ranking does not matter because the recruiting class is the core of what first-year coach Mike Rice is trying to rebuild.

"Rutgers' class ranking gives absolutely no indication of the importance of the impact this class will have," Telep said. "It's exactly what Rutgers needed. It's delivered on the momentum (of Rice's hire) and the quality of players.

"This is an awesome opportunity where I can tell you, as someone who puts the number on a class ranking, that it doesn't mean anything because this is a core unit, and the core foundation of Rutgers basketball, and it can't be measured in a number."

The headliner of the class is four-star South Kent (Conn.) Prep power forward Kadeem Jack, but Telep believes the more significant commitment came from four-star St. Anthony Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) point guard Myles Mack.

Mack is the 12th-rated point guard, and 71st overall, in the class. But prior to Rice being hired by Rutgers, Mack wasn't listing the Scarlet Knights as an option.

"I think the guy that gives them a really good bit of street cred is Myles Mack," Telep said. "It's because he is kinda that guy who is going to define what Rutgers basketball is going to be under Mike Rice. It's that guy with that chip on his shoulder, who just wants to go out and win games and prove everybody wrong. I think Myles Mack could wind up being the defining guy in this group in a few years.

"Kadeem is the most talented guy in this group, but the guy who is going to be the spokesperson of the class, it's going to be Myles."

Interestingly, the first member of the class to commit was four-star South Kent power forward Derrick Randall, who is ranked 93rd overall in the class. Upon his Aug. 1 commitment, he told ScarletReport.com his top priority was getting close friends and AAU teammates Mack and Jack to join him.

"I know it's early, but at this point I don't think the Rutgers administration could ask for much more out of Mike Rice," Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "He's gone out and put together a very strong recruiting class during his first off season."

It also speaks to Rice's ability to sell his vision of the program he was able to land Flora MacDonald Academy's (Red Spring, Md.) Jerome Seagears, the 19th-rated point guard in the class, after getting Mack's commitment.

Add to that Blue Ridge School (Dyke, Va.) wing Malick Kone and Boys and Girls High (Brooklyn) wing Michael Taylor, and the Rutgers fan base is excited about basketball for the first time in a while.

The class could also gain another commitment in the coming days. Greg Lewis, a center from St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) is currently on an official visit. He told ScarletReport.com earlier this week he would commit if things went well.

National signing day is Nov. 10, so the commitments cannot become binding until then.

"Rice has taken the necessary steps to get good live bodies and players that can play and bring something to the table," Evans said. "Kadeem Jack was the biggest get, but Mack, Seagears, Randall and (Malick) Kone (and Taylor) all bring something to the table."

Rice was able to put together such a strong class for a variety of reasons, including his success in leading Robert Morris to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.

However, more instrumental were his relationships, built during his time working at The Hoop Group, with some of the AAU programs in the area. He also hired a well-connected staff.

David Cox is rooted in the Washington, D.C., AAU scene, and he had strong bond built with Seagears, Kone and class of 2012 commit Jordan Goodman. Van Macon's New York City background included relationships with Taylor, Jack and Mack.

"Any time you can bring those kind of recruiting relationships, it's a big help," Telep said. "And obviously David Cox's connection in the mid-Atlantic corridor, has aided this recruiting class. It also has to play together. This is where you have to give Mike Rice the credit he deserves in hiring an excellent staff.

"You're going to be as successful as the people around you help you to become. Mike has hired good people and he has allowed them to do their jobs, and they've relied on a network of previous resources to get this done."

And it was Rice who was able to put the staff together and build excitement not only within the fan base, but within the recruiting world.

"I don't think anybody who knows Mike Rice is surprised by his success," Telep said. "I think if there's a surprise here, it's just how relatively quickly he's been able to make this kind of an impact. I think that's due to his personality, his staff and what is just an unbelievable opportunity for playing time for young kids in that area."


Scarlet Report Top Stories