Rutgers Basketball has Steep Hill to Climb Under Steve Pikiell (Big Ten Preview)

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Steve Pikiell takes over a Rutgers basketball program that has won just three Big Ten games since joining the conference two years ago.

RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
Last Season: 14th, 1-17 in Big Ten, 7-25 overall
Predicted B10 Finish: 14th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Ibrahima Diallo (So)/C.J. Gettys (Sr)/Shaquille Doorson (So)
PF: Deshawn Freeman (Jr)/Candido Sa (Jr)/Issa Thiam (Fr)
SF: Jonathan Laurent (So)/Eugene Omoruyi (Fr)
SG: Mike Williams (Jr)/Matt Bullock (Fr)
PG: Corey Sanders (So)/Nigel Johnson (Jr)

Gone: G-Bishop Daniels, SG-Omari Grier, C-Greg Lewis, G-Justin Goode (transfer-), PF-D.J. Foreman (transfer-St. Louis)

rutgers dance team

Strengths:
When you were as terrible as Rutgers was last season, it is hard to have many strengths. However, Pikiell does have a talented starting backcourt in Corey Sanders and Mike Williams. That duo combined to average more than 28 points per game last season and will shoulder the offensive load again this year. Kansas State transfer, Nigel Johnson adds experience at guard and should see a good share of minutes as the Scarlet Knights will likely use a lot of three guard looks.

Question Marks:
With D.J. Foreman transferring and Greg Lewis graduating, Rutgers has a hole to fill inside. Having a healthy Deshawn Freeman at power forward should help as his 2015-16 season ended early due to a knee injury. Sophomore Ibrahima Diallo should start at center with UNC-Wilmington grad transfer C.J. Gettys and Shaquille Doorson, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, fighting for minutes as well.

rutgers basketball

Player to Watch:
Sanders was a highly-touted recruit who is easily Rutgers’ best player. He flew under the radar more than he should have but had one of the more productive freshman seasons in the country. He is a high volume shooter and his shot selection needs to improve even though the he has the green light pretty much every possession.

X-Factor:
Freeman averaged about 13 points and five rebounds per game before suffering his season ending injury. The former JUCO transfer brings energy and versatility to the floor and adds a needed scoring dimension to the frontcourt to help take some of the pressure off the guards.

Looking Ahead to 2017-18:
Pikiell has his work cut out for him in bringing talented recruits to Rutgers which has not been an easy task for his predecessors. He has one player committed for the 2017 class in shooting guard Geo Baker but will only have two total scholarships available since there is only one senior on the roster.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 at DePaul
11/30 vs. Miami FL (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/23 at Seton Hall

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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