First the good news: Rutgers has gotten Patrick Jackson. The Brooklyn native finally came out and confirmed what many have known or suspected for a while, namely that Rutgers is indeed the place where he will continue his education and play college basketball. "I'm just real comfortable with the staff and the players on the team", he said to me. "Now I can focus on my grades and concentrate on school and the season".
Jackson now joins Mike Rosario and Christian Morris in comprising a talented trio that should be able to step in play immediately for the Knights. All three are expected to do just that, and Jackson said that head coach Fred Hill expects him to "come in and produce". He clearly feels he's ready and able to, and so does his AAU coach, Andre Ambrose, who said that, "pound for pound, he may the best player coming out of New York. I think he compares well to guys like Devin Ebanks and Sylvan Landesberg. He has the same attributes and a better upside".
That's extremely high praise, but Ambrose feels it's justified, saying: "He hasn't been playing at a real high level as far as teammates and competition is concerned, but he's started to now. If he had waited to the end of the year, he'd have a lot more offers and a lot of big schools after him. But he's seen what they've done with the football team, and he wants to help do that with basketball. It's a place he wants to be at. He just has a good feeling about Rutgers, and when you get that feeling about a place "
That's exactly what Jackson said to me, as he mentioned the turnaround in football and said he wants to help create the same thing for basketball. He said that "'I'm looking forward to my freshman year and to put Rutgers back on the map". He should be a huge help. He may very well become the second best shooter on the team the moment he sets foot on campus next fall, trailing only the Douby-esque Rosario for pure marksmanship skills.
Now for the bad news: as of this writing, things are not looking very promising for Quintrell Thomas. All reports I've received throughout the weekend indicate that he seems quite intent on committing to Kansas. In spite of everything that RU has tried of late, it just doesn't appear to be working. And this is indeed a shame. Thomas would be the icing on the cake, and would give Rutgers an extremely good four-man class. However, if RU is still going to assemble a class that addresses all of its needs, it looks like it's going to be without the Saint Patrick's product.
Nothing yet is official (and of course should the surprise of surprises occur and he picks RU, then we can disregard the rest of this story), but should the expected happen - and this is indeed expected, almost in the way that Pat Jackson's verbal was expected - then things begin to have some drama. What does RU do then? Big men are going to have to come from somewhere - but where? And will they be of the same high-caliber that the other recruits have been? Dwight Miller apparently had a good time on his visit, and he clearly becomes a prime target. But for him, his recruitment seems to just be getting started. He may want to take his time and take some visits and feel some love for a while. RU will have to stay in touch and keep giving it.
At this point in the rebuilding phase, RU seems so close and yet so far. Pat Jackson joining Mike Coburn, Corey Chandler, Earl Pettis, and Mike Rosario, along with Christian Morris and Hamady N'diaye (and JR Inman, Anthony Farmer, and Jaron Griffin back for their senior years), is definitely a reason for real optimism for the future. However, there will be a scholarship (or two) available to fill the needs in the frontcourt, and, should QT become another doubting Thomas, it will be very interesting to see who RU eventually reels in take them.