Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
This weekend Rutgers and Seton Hall will host several key basketball recruits who could alter the future of both teams.
Jonathan Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 forward from Mount Vernon, N.Y. who recently announced he was transferring from Florida, will be at Seton Hall Friday and will then visit Rutgers beginning Monday.
Mitchell could also opt to visit Marshall University, but his uncle, Herb Mitchell, said it will likely come down to Rutgers or Seton Hall.
“He wants to come home,” Herb said Thursday after driving back from Florida with Jonathan.
Mitchell played high school ball at Mount Vernon with Rutgers freshman guard Mike Coburn and played AAU ball under Seton Hall assistant Derm Player.
The late signing period ends May 21 and Mitchell will have to sit out the 2008-09 season wherever he ends up.
Seton Hall will also receive a visit from its latest commit, 6-10, 340-pound center Melvyn “Big O” Oliver, who plays at Mississippi Elite Christian Academy in Jackson, Miss. and last week made a verbal commitment to Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez.
“He should be signed by the time he gets there (Friday),” said Victor Evans, Oliver’s high school coach. “We’re waiting on FedEx to bring the Letter of Intent.”
Oliver joins Paterson Catholic senior guard Jordan Theodore, the 2007-08 Herald News Player of the Year, in Gonzalez’s recruiting class for next year.
Rutgers, meanwhile, this weekend will host Devin Ebanks, a 6-9 forward originally from Long Island City, N.Y. who played two years at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn. Ebanks spent one season there alongside West Milford’s Justin Sofman, who recently announced he was transferring from Rutgers.
Ebanks, a five-star talent according to Rivals, asked for his release from Indiana after Kelvin Sampson left in the wake of a recruiting scandal.
He has already visited West Virginia and Texas and will see Memphis next weekend. Memphis, which picked up commitments from five-star talents Tyreke Evans of Aston, Pa., and Wesley Witherspoon of Lilburn, Ga., is considered to be the favorite for his services.
Rutgers is bringing in a recruiting class of Mike Rosario, a McDonald’s All-American from St. Anthony;6-8 forward Christian Morris of the South Kent (Conn.) School; and 6-5 wing Pat Jackson of Brooklyn Boys & Girls, and possibly Greg Echenique of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, who may enroll in the fall of 2008 instead of ’09 as originally planned.
“I definitely think that Rutgers is going to be probably Top 10 in the Big East and I think they’re going to be pretty good,” Ebanks said. “And other kids that see that, they’re probably going to want to go there.
Recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski said Ebanks should be an impact player wherever he ends up.
“Devin Ebanks is a guy who changes ends of the floor as well as anyone,” Konchalski said. “That’s his greatest asset is his mobility. He’s an opportunist offensively. He runs the court really well. He has a lot of quickness and he can score. He has a knack for scoring. He can shoot the 3. He has quickness around the basket. He doesn’t move particularly well without the ball. He’s got to work a lot harder defensively. He’s made a lot of progress in the two years at St. Thomas More, learning to play harder for longer stretches and not taking plays off but he’s still got to work on his lack of focus.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.