Rutgers hoops: Focus on Recruiting

Now that coach Fred Hill's job status is no longer an issue, the Scarlet Knights staff can hit the recruiting trail with even more fervor and urgency. Check out some of the big man targets Rutgers is recruiting. Also, Hill was asked if changes were coming to his staff. Find out what he had to say.

With Fred Hill's tenure as coach at Rutgers no longer in question, the Scarlet Knights staff is pushing forward in the recruiting process to sign a pair of centers, a glaring need in the late signing period.

The Scarlet Knights' top target is 6-foot-9 Mo Walker of Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.), who last month said his final four schools were Rutgers, Seton Hall Georgetown and Pittsburgh.

Walker already took an official visit to Pittsburgh, and he is scheduling his other trips. However, his coach, Jason Smith, wrote in an email "I advised the family to wait until after the Final Four'' to make any more trips because of the uncertainty with programs.

Already, Seton Hall fired coach Bobby Gonzalez, and Smith also wants to guard against transfers that skew depth.

On Wednesday, Rutgers announced Hill would return for a fifth season, but he said questions about his status as the Scarlet Knights' coach have not come up in recruiting.

"Never once in recruiting has the direction of our program ever been brought up, or mentioned,'' Hill said. "We've been extremely well received since I've taken over, and we've got great young players that are very interested in Rutgers University, and we'll continue to go out and bring in the quality student-athlete that we've been fortunate enough to recruit over the last four years.''

The Scarlet Knights are also looking to the junior college ranks for help, and are recruiting 7-footer Guy-Marc Michel of North Idaho College. He is a rebounder and shot blocker, who struggles offensively.

Rutgers has pulled back on its recruitment of Princeton Day Academy (Lanham, Md.) big man Eric McKnight, and junior college standout Ricardo Ratliffe of Central Florida junior college appears out of the picture as his four scheduled visits are to Alabama, Cincinnati, Missouri and Clemson.

The Scarlet Knights staff continues to scour the country looking for a player to fill the void left when Greg Echenique abruptly transferred in January. They are also looking overseas for a big man. But aside from recruiting, Hill has other things he will handle within the program.

He was asked if there would be any changes made to his staff.

"I evaluate the program, just like everybody else does, and it's an ongoing evaluation for my program,'' Hill said. "We're going to continue to do the things we need to do to build a first-class Big East program that can compete in the upper echelon of the Big East, and compete to go to the NCAA Tournament.

"So I am constantly evaluating what the program goals and needs are, and I will continue to do that as I do after every season. My evaluation takes some time because we're in the middle of recruiting.''

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