Josh Newman breaks down the quarterback situation after Rutgers’ Scarlet-White Game
3 things to know about the 3-star senior from Ohio, plus a look at Rutgers’ projected depth chart for 2018-19.
Help is on the way for Rutgers basketball’s backcourt. Caleb McConnell, a Class of 2018 combo guard from Ohio, announced his commitment to the Scarlet Knights Sunday shortly after his official visit concluded.
How he ended up connecting with head coach Steve Pikiell is interesting and sheds light on Pikiell’s somewhat unconventional approach to recruiting. McConnell said it was Pikiell, not an assistant, who made first contact and took the lead in pursuing him.
“It was a way different process,” McConnell said. “This is what I like: From day one Coach Pikiell was the one who called me. He said, ‘Hey Caleb, I saw you play, I watched film on you, I like your game and I would love to come see you.’”
Then came a little wager.
“When he said he was coming to see me, I told my dad, ‘I bet you $20 when Coach Pikiell gets here he’s going to say, Caleb, I could have been anywhere in the country today, but I chose to see you,'” McConnell said. “That’s what plenty of coaches have told me. When Coach got there, he never said that. He never told me anything I wanted to hear. He told me everything has to be earned, and I loved that.”
McConnell spent his official visit splitting time between hosts Geo Baker and Myles Johnson. He said Pikiell’s pitch to him remained steady throughout.
“He never promised me anything except a great opportunity,'” McConnell said. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m looking for. I would love to play for a guy like that.’ Usually all coaches are the same. Coach Pikiell is a different guy. I’ve never met a coach like this.”
The 6-foot-5, 175-pound McConnell joins shooting guard Montez Mathis, wing Ron Harper Jr. and junior college forward Shaq Carter in Pikiell’s incoming recruiting class. The new-look Scarlet Knights also will activate two players who practiced with the team last season: transfer guard Peter Kiss and redshirt big man Myles Johnson.
They have two open scholarship for next season and likely will fill both. The spring signing period end May 16.
Here are three things to know about McConnell, followed by a look at Rutgers’ projected depth chart:
1. He was the top available high school senior in Ohio, according to OHHoops.org, which ranked McConnell 11th in the Class of 2018. According to 247Sports.com, McConnell is a three-star prospect with offers from West Virginia, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Missouri State and UMass. This is an important addition to a backcourt that lost standout junior Corey Sanders and reliable senior Mike Williams.
2. McConnell is a bit more of a two guard than a point, but Rutgers likes his versatility. He rebounds well and can defend three positions — he played wing earlier in his high school career — and should contribute off the bench at either backcourt spot next winter. McConnell played well for talent-loaded Spire Academy this past season and stood out in November’s National Prep Showcase.
3. The Scarlet Knights remain in the market for a seasoned point guard. A postgrad ball-handler who could enable Baker and Mathis to shine off the ball would be ideal. If that doesn’t happen, Baker will run the offense next season. The Scarlet Knight also are open to the prospect of taking on a sit-out transfer at the position. McConnell’s commitment shouldn’t impact the recruitment of Gill St. Bernard’s star Paul Mulcahy, a pure playmaking point who is a primary focus for 2019.
Here is Rutgers’ projected depth chart for next season:
Guards: Geo Baker, Montez Mathis (freshman), Peter Kiss (transfer), Caleb McConnell (freshman).
Wings: Issa Thiam, Ron Harper Jr. (freshman).
Bigs: Eugene Omoruyi, Shaq Carter (transfer), Shaq Doorson, Mamadou Doucoure, Myles Johnson (redshirt).
Staff writer Jerry Carino: firstname.lastname@example.org.