The Times They Are A-Changin'

The Rutgers men's basketball program has been down for far too long, but it's beginning to appear as if Fred Hill may actually have it standing tall again pretty soon. Greg Echenique is perhaps RU's most significant recruit ever, and suddenly RU is a program with momentum. It couldn't have come at a better time, considering the troubles in South Orange. Has the worm has finally turned in NJ?

Indeed it has, make no mistake about it. A new day has dawned for RU hoops. Greg Echenique was the wall that had to be scaled, the barrier that had to be broken down for Rutgers. Only RU never could, having been left at the altar so many times before. This is not meant to be disrespectful to Mike Rosario at all. It's just that he's 6 foot 2. Echenique is 6 foot 9, quite wide and quite talented. He plays at St Benedict's, and turned down the opportunity to play at Duke.

Think about that. Rutgers (coming off a season where it lost 20 games) went head-to-head with Duke once again – and won. After Jayson Williams and Lance Thomas (with Dahntay Jones in between), RU finally beat them out. Of those three, only Lance was on Freddie's watch, and I think when all is said and done, the odds are quite high that RU will have made out far better on that split better than the Blue Devils.

So one more time: after a twenty-loss season, Fred Hill and his staff bring in a Mickey D's All-American for '08 and a guy that may very well wind up being one in '09.

Once again, the timing of this could not be better. For one thing, Devin Ebanks is probably going to be out of his letter of intent very soon. It's just a matter of paperwork arriving in the mail now. While Echenique's decision to attend RU will not have much of an impact on Ebanks' decision, RU is now a program viewed in a much different light. It may not influence Ebanks much personally, but it may influence, just a bit, those that might have some influence on him.

With the additional commitment from Austin Johnson, Rutgers has actually filled out it's '09 recruiting class (although do not be surprised if there is, as they say, movement within the program, and a scholarship or two eventually becomes available). RU still has one scholarship to give for '08, and with his release from Indiana imminent, the Devin Ebanks sweepstakes is going to be the next big recruiting battle for RU.

Once again, the news is good. There have been reports out there on rival internet sites that RU will not actively pursue Devin Ebanks based on some aversion or another. There were even a few moments of doubt in this corner at times. But now all indications are that RU wants him big-time, and is quite willing to wage a full-throttled battle against Memphis, Texas, West Virginia or whoever for him. Do not be surprised if the momentum continues.

So by May RU may very well have both its '08 and '09 classes completed. That's how the successful big-time programs do it.

Meanwhile, up in South Orange, their basketball coach, Bobby Gonzalez, has been suspended for one Big East game next year by his boss Joe Quinlan, who would like to fire him. Bobby hasn't filled up his '08 class either, and he has no one at all yet for '09. I wouldn't expect any of those scholarships to be taken by anyone from St. Anthony's or St. Benedict's. Seton Hall may also very well experience movement within its program too - but it wouldn't be surprising if those scholarships don't even get used.

The worm has turned indeed.

Scarlet Report Top Stories