Rutgers has more than a few holes in need of a filling, and the newest formal addition to the program does exactly that.
Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips wing Jonathan Laurent signed his National Letter of Intent for Rutgers this week, and coach Eddie Jordan raved about the addition after his formal announcement Friday afternoon.
“We’ll have things that we’ve never had at that position,” Jordan said. “We’re losing Junior [Etou]. Obviously Junior was a terrific rebounder and defender, but we didn’t get enough creativity from that wing position, and Jonathan gives us that.”
Rutgers often resorted to a three-guard look, but may not need it next season based on Laurent’s skillset as a 6-foot-6 wing.
“He’s got good size, and sort of lanky size with good length and wing span,” Jordan said. “… He could play his position as a swingman for us. Could he play as a guard? I don’t know but he’s certainly a swingman now. He’s a slasher, and he’s a good three-point shooter.”
Laurent brings the defensive versatility needed in Jordan’s system and does not shy away from contact with 17 points and seven rebounds per game as a senior.
Finding the right mental fits for the program became an early challenge for Jordan, but Laurent’s attitude is a perfect fit in the program’s eyes.
“He looks you in your eye,” Jordan said. “He’s willing to start a conversation and continue one. A lot of kids are shy, and they don’t talk. They give you one-word answer. He gives you in-depth answers and he thinks about what he wants to say. He loves basketball, and he’s a really amazing kid, man.”
Jordan took over the Rutgers job exactly two years and one day ago, and enters the season with a roster full of his own prospects. That includes four announced in the class along with committed Kansas State transfer Nigel Johnson.
Space remains in the 2015 class with high-profile targets Malik Ellison and Deshawn Freeman still in play in addition to multiple under-the-radar prospects.
“We need to upgrade the talent with guys who make plays,” Jordan said. “We didn’t make plays consistently enough. Myles [Mack] had a whole lot of responsibility to keep us organized and make plays and score. I think once things are said and done in this 15 recruiting period, we’re going to have guys who can make plays on the perimeter.”