Questionable decision may put Eddie Jordan on the hot seat
College Contributor Network
One step forward and two steps back. Every time the Rutgers men's basketball program comes close to digging itself out of the hole that former head coach Mike Rice had created, it falls even further into the depths of mediocrity.
After a 10-22 inaugural Big Ten campaign, things surprisingly were on the ups for the Scarlet Knights due to the recruiting class that head coach Eddie Jordan was somehow able to muster. Jordan has been at a huge disadvantage on the recruiting trails because his program has old, run down basketball facilities that are easily the worst in the Big Ten.
Somehow, Jordan was able to convince four star point guard Corey Sanders to sign with Rutgers in September. Sanders is from Lakeland, Florida and played for Faith Baptist Christian Academy. At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, Sanders is ranked as the ninth best point guard in the nation by ESPN and is listed at No. 60 in the ESPN 100.
Shooting guard Justin Goode joined Sanders by also signing on in September.
In November, Rutgers landed another top prospect in Kejuan Johnson. Johnson is a 6-foot-6 forward out of Marietta, Georgia and is ranked at No. 51 in ESPN's Top-100 power forwards list.
The Scarlet Knights were not able to sustain its momentum.
In April after the conclusion of the 2014-15 season in which Rutgers went 2-16 in conference play, Junior Etou announced he was transferring. The 6-foot-7 forward is heading to Tulsa. Etou was one of the more consistent competitors for the Scarlet Knights and started in all 31 games this season.
Although he averaged only 7.4 points per game, Etou had a knack for rebounding the basketball. By grabbing 6.6 boards per game, Etou was the eighth best overall rebounder in the Big Ten. He sat at fifth in the conference for offensive rebounds with 5.2 per game.
Later in April, Rutgers received a huge boost with the commitment of junior college transfer Deshawn Freeman from Hutchinson Community College. Freeman is listed as a four star power forward according to rivals.com and was an absolute stud for his team averaging 19.2 points per game with 9.5 rebounds.
Johnathan Jean Laurent, a three star small forward and guard Nigel Johnson, a transfer from Kansas State, signed with the Scarlet Knights in the same month as well. Johnson will be forced to sit out next year due to transfer rules.
Despite the horrendous season, Jordan put together a very respectable recruiting class in 2015, the best the program has had in years but, he still had his eyes on one final prospect, Omari Greer. Jordan got his wish as Greer committed to Rutgers last Friday.
Greer is a transfer from Bradley and will play as a Scarlet Knight in his final year of eligibility. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged 9.2 points per game in his last two years at Bradley and only started in 11 games this past season.
There was only one problem, Rutgers had no more available scholarships because it had already used its limit of 13. The issue was soon fixed as two more Scarlet Knights, Ryan Johnson and Khalil Batie announced they were transferring later that same Friday that Greer committed.
Batie is a sophomore guard but as a walk on, he saw little playing time. Meanwhile, Johnson, a small forward, was one of Jordan's better recruits in the class of 2014. Johnson hales from Greensboro, North Carolina and attended New Hope Christian Academy. The 6-foot-6 forward was a prolific scorer in high school, scoring over 2,000 points in his career.
Johnson averaged 27 points, four rebounds, and six assists in his senior season. He can also play at guard and power forward. Johnson has a similar skill set to Knicks' star Carmelo Anthony. Like Melo, Johnson is a pure scorer, he is excellent from behind the arc and is an efficient jump shooter as well.
Johnson also has a solid inside game, can drive to the basket at will, and has sound dunking ability. Johnson used his redshirt this past year because he was only partial qualified academically. With four years of eligibility remaining, Johnson could have been the reliable scoring threat and three point shooter that has been missing from Jordan's program.
Johnson should have plenty of options to play elsewhere as he received offers from several other universities before accepting a scholarship to play at Rutgers in 2014. Jordan's decision to take Greer over Johnson is difficult to fathom because the roster was already loaded with guards.
Excluding Greer, Jordan already had six guards on his roster, seven with Nigel Johnson included. The team lacks experienced players at forward. Why give up on a player in Ryan Johnson with great potential and instead take a guard who started just 11 games for a team in the Missouri Valley Conference last year with one year of eligibility left?
This an absolutely mind boggling decision by Jordan because Johnson could have filled a lot of holes on the team. If Rutgers endures another sub par 10 win season, Eddie Jordan could be out of a job. His choice to take Greer over Johnson might be the beginning of the end for Jordan at Rutgers.
Evan Bruno is a sophomore at Rutgers University. He works as a staff writer for his school newspaper the Daily Targum covering Rutgers athletics. Evan is from New Jersey and is a passionate fan of many New York sports teams. Follow him on Twitter: @evancb55