Freshman Impact at Rutgers

Rutgers got its first major freshman since 2011, and they already have significant roles on the 2014-15 roster under coach Eddie Jordan. With one freshman set for his 11th start Thursday against Nebraska and two others seeing minute increases, Jordan broke down what he’s seen so far from his first true recruiting class.

Eddie Jordan took over so late that Junior Etou served as his freshman in the 2013 recruiting class. With a full year and help from assistants the following year, Jordan signed five freshmen in in his second season and three already have key roles.

Jordan plays three in his rotation, highlighted by Brooklyn guard Mike Williams, who made his 10th career start in a 50-46 victory Saturday over Penn State.

“They haven’t shown a lot of improvement on the stat sheet, but as you well know they are beginning to understand the physical-ness of the games, the pace of the games, how focused you have to be to execute while under duress,” Jordan said. “They’re learning how to stay focused and be disciplined in what we need to do.”

Williams is fourth on Rutgers (9-6, 1-1) in scoring with 7.9 points per game in 26 minutes. He enters the heart of Big Ten play as a rising impact defender for Jordan.

Williams and Bishop Daniels, a first-year Scarlet Knight and JUCO transfer, held the Big Ten’s leading scorer D.J. Newbill to 14 points and 4-of-17 shooting.

Forward D.J. Foreman started twice ahead of Kadeem Jack this season, and averages 15.1 minutes as a spark off the bench.

“All of those things that they’re learning and improving in probably won’t show up in the box score on the stat sheet, but we see improvement in their practice efforts and in their preparation habits,” Jordan said. “[They are] getting on the floor early taking extra shots, staying focused, staying attentive in practice, more talking. That’s where we see improvement.”

With forwards Ryan Johnson and Ibrahima Diallo as partial qualifiers, center Shaquille Doorson rounds out the group of immediate contributors.

The 6-foot-11 freshman from the Netherlands played in all but one of the Scarlet Knights’ games this season as the backup to center Greg Lewis.

Doorson averages 9.2 minutes per game with playing time on the rise.

“Coming out of high school, they didn’t have that sort of constant, daily discipline – lifting weights, watching film, understanding how to break down film,” Jordan said. “All of these things, we see improvement in them. The three freshmen that are playing now have shown a lot of improvement in those areas.”

Rutgers added another freshman this week in guard Justin Goode out of Hargrave Military Academy. Goode enrolled for the spring semester to red-shirt, and practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday afternoon.

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