How did Rutgers basketball coach Steve Pikiell land his all-star staff?
Credit Pikiell on the field goal, but athletic director Pat Hobbs gets a major assist both with his vision and his checkbook.
Rutgers assistants Karl Hobbs and Brandin Knight are both on two-year deals with $300,000 annually with Jay Young on a one-year, $200,000 deal. Rutgers also built an impressive support staff that pushes the total salary over the $1 million plateau.
The real selling point comes in facilities, however, where new Rutgers coaches believe a groundbreaking could take place as early as June for the indoor practice building.
“First and foremost, you have an athletic director, in meeting and sitting down and talking with him, you have a clear plan on where things are headed,” Hobbs said on his decision to leave Connecticut for Rutgers. “I think the fact that when you look at a brand-new practice facility that’s being built. It’s my understanding that the ground-breaking will be sometime in June. That will change the whole game plan for us in a lot of different ways.”
Changing the culture with Hobbs and Pikiell as leaders was the best-possible scenario for new assistant coaches. Knight became the final piece early in mid-April in a move that even he described as shocking.
Knight fielded plenty of offers after Jamie Dixon left Pittsburgh, and chose his home state.
“So far a lot of people were surprised or shocked by some of our moves, and I’m excited to work with coach Pikiell and our staff as well,” he said. “Karl was a big reason why I came over as well as Jay just knowing the staff that I was going to work with. I was excited about meeting them and coach Pikiell and Dean Hobbs as I refer to him from knowing him. They were people that I felt very comfortable with. The sense that I’ve gotten so far is that there must be something good going on at Rutgers if guys are willing to make the kind of sacrifices that some of us have made to come join the program.”
Knight’s mother is a long-time Seton Hall employee and holds other ties to the Pirates and Hobbs himself.
Young stood next to Pikiell in his last build, and sees the same chances at Rutgers.
“I’ve worked with Coach for 11 years at Stony Brook and we’ve become good friends,” Pikiell said. “To continue that was just an unbelievable opportunity for me and I’m excited to be here. I used to tell everybody, I had the best seat over the last 11 years to one of the great reclamation projects in all of basketball, and I know we can do it here again for sure. I’m excited to go through that again.”
The excitement for the staff continued Thursday afternoon with a verbal commitment from 6-foot-9 junior college power forward Candido Sa, who held interest from both Texas and Pittsburgh.