Rice Excited About Rutgers' Recruiting

Kadeem Jack

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice is off to a rousing start on the recruiting circuit with three four-star recruits for the 2011 class, and he while NCAA rules prohibit him from speaking about the individual players, he sat down with ScarletReport.com to discuss why he is having success, how he Rutgers must still fend off other programs and more.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – New Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice has the fan base excited to a level not seen in years because of a quartet of non-binding oral commitments designed to return the luster to the program.

The Scarlet Knights received oral commitments from four-star power forwards Kadeem Jack and Derrick Randall, four-star point guard Myles Mack and developing wing Malick Kone, and are also doing well with point guard Jerome Seagers and shooting guard Michael Taylor.

Although NCAA rules prohibit Rice from speaking about players until they sign a binding national letter of intent Nov. 10, but he did talk to ScarletReport.com about his recruiting philosophy and why the staff is having success recruiting since he was named coach in late May.

"The staff and I kind of narrowed in on some very talented individuals," Rice said. "They kind of bought into where the program is going, and what we had in store for them as individuals and as a collective group.

"After the ink dries, then you have to actually develop them into a working unit and a team, and everybody knows it starts with recruiting and winning some battles."

Rice acknowledged being pleased with the early recruiting dividends, but he knows oral commitments are just that, a verbal agreement that will continue to take work since other programs continue to recruit several of the committed players.

"I think recruiting is going great," Rice said, "but until the end, until the ink dries, it's more than talk when they commit, but until that ink dries, you never know exactly how your recruiting class is going to be.

"People are continuing to recruit some of our commitments, and maybe it shows a lack of respect for the program at Rutgers if these people think they can come in and take our guys when they have committed."

Rice wanted to recruit the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to New York City, where he and his assistants had well-established relationships.

Associate head coach David Cox is entrenched in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and it is no surprise Kone and class of 2012 commit Jordan Goodman both played for the D.C. Assault AAU program, which Cox was involved with earlier in his coaching career.

Assistant coach Van Macon spent a career building relationships in New York City and was instrumental in getting St. Anthony (Jersey City) point guard Mack, Jack, who played at Rice High and Randall, who was in New York before playing in New Jersey last season. Jack and Randall are each attending South Kent (Conn.) this season.

"We recruited to our strengths," Rice said. "We recruited to the relationships we had already, and so I think we're going to continue to do that. This is where a lot of the Big East talent is, and when you look at teams that won the Big East, they recruit this corridor, and they recruit it well."

While Rice has been able to pull in guards and forwards, he is yet to land a center, an area of extreme need since Rutgers does not have a true center in its program.

According to sources, the Scarlet Knights will look to the junior college ranks to bring in a center for the 2011-12 season since Rice plans on using all seven available scholarships.

"When you have such lack of depth, and I think it's not like we're settling on some of these kids on the end …some of these kids at the end are going to be great Big East basketball players," Rice said. "Unless something happens, we're going to probably sign seven scholarship players. In the end, there's attrition. Someone is always unhappy. Someone always looks for greener pasture.

"We'll see in the future, but right now I think the program is going to be built, at least the direction, on these seven individuals."

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