Jake Dadika, who is one of the top seniors in the state, made the decision to walk on at his father's alma mater this week, and will be a part of the first Rutgers basketball roster in Big Ten history.
"I've been leaning there for a while, but I made the final decision about a week ago," he said. "… I've always loved the school. I know coach [Eddie] Jordan is a great coach. It's exciting that I get to be a part of the program. I got accepted into their business school, and that's an opportunity that I almost had to take. My dad didn't play a huge part. It's cool that I get to follow in his footsteps, but him going there wasn't a deciding factor."
Dadika is a 6-foot-2 scoring point guard for Spotswood (N.J.), where he is 39 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer.
Well aware of the challenges of being a walk on at the Big Ten level, Dadika feels ready to contribute at Rutgers and make a name for himself. He is equally excited for his opportunity in the prestigious in-state business program.
With hard work and a twist of fate, Dadika aims to climb the ladder to playing time for the Scarlet Knights.
"I just expect to go out there my first year and work hard in practice," Dadika said. "I'm going to make the players better as much as I can. I'm just trying to make a difference in practice. … I'm just going to go work hard. Hopefully if I get a little stronger, a little bigger, I can get some minutes down the road."
The Dadika family has a long-standing relationship with Jordan. Jordan worked as a graduate assistant under coach Bob Wenzel while the elder Dadika helped lead Rutgers to its last NCAA tournament appearance.
Jordan and the coaching staff met Jake Dadika's commitment with enthusiasm. Rick Dadika still holds five spots on the Rutgers all-time statistical leaderboard, highlighted by seventh in made three-pointers and sixth in steals.
"He's a great coach, and I think he's going to turn this program around," Dadika said. "I think we'll be very good in a couple of years. I like what he's starting to do already. I know it's his first year and it's tough. I think he'll turn the program around."
Before his high school graduation and Rutgers enrollment, Dadika has sights on a strong finish to his basketball career at Spotswood. He made a big splash Tuesday night by hitting the game winner on his home court.
Spotswood lost a 15-point second half lead when Dadika stepped in to end any doubt of a playoff loss on his home court. Dadika drilled a floater for the final two of his 21 points in the final seconds of the game to secure a one-point victory.
"It was great," he said. "The place went nuts and everything."