Kadeem Jack’s path to Rutgers was long and winding, from his days as a soccer player in Trinidad to an elite recruit being wooed by Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina to South Kent (Conn.) School.
Jack, a four-star recruit who is rated as Scout.com’s No. 8 power forward in the 2011 class, made his decision in the last few days, and the taped announcement was broadcast on MSG Varsity on Tuesday evening.
The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Jack is in Turkey playing for a New York all-star team and was unavailable for comment.
“I’m going to take my talents to New Jersey and (coach) Mike Rice. ….Rutgers University,” Jack announced on MSG Varsity. “I think the red wave is the way to go. Mike Rice is trying to start new things, everything about the program.
“They’re trying to build everything around me, start doing great things with certain players they’re recruiting, and I think we can make a big change and be one of the big teams in the Big East.”
Jack joins South Kent teammate and four-star power forward Derrick Randall and Blue Ridge High (Dyke, Va.) wing Malick Kone as members of the 2011 class. The Scarlet Knights also have a commitment from Progressive Christian Academy (Temple Hills, Md.) class of 2012 forward Jordan Goodman.
In talking about his decision to attend Rutgers, Jack told MSG Varsity his strong relationship with Scarlet Knights assistant coach Van Macon played a significant factor.
“We kind of have a connection,” Jack said. “I’ve been speaking with him. Mike Rice, he seems really passionate about everything that he wants Rutgers to do, so I just felt like I should be a part of that process.”
One of the more intriguing issues with Jack’s recruitment was his desire to attend a prep school for a year rather than enroll at a college.
He was a soccer playing growing up – he moved to the United State when he was 12 – before shifting to basketball. He averaged 16.9 points per game as a senior at Rice High and was an all-Catholic League selection, but he opted to attend South Kent to further develop his game before entering college.
“I felt like I played off a lot of athleticism because I was new to the game,” Jack told MSG Varsity. “Stuff wasn’t coming second nature to me. I think I needed to get my skill level up. I really didn’t have that much of a face-up game. It was all back to the basket and playing above the rim. Now, I think I can do both. I worked out all summer.
“I need 10 or 15 moves I can go to because playing in any conference, you’re going to have to bang sometimes, you’re going to have to run sometimes, and I think me being so athletic, and having both tools, athleticism and skills, I’m going to be unstoppable.”
Jack is expected to sign a binding national letter of intent in November, and discussed why he made the decision before the season.
“I just want to play and have fun and kick it with my teammates instead of always having to go somewhere, to do this interview, college visits,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish everything off and have a great season.”