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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.
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Saturday / February 24.
  • Injured & Suspended, Inman Waits His Turn

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    PISCATAWAY, N.J. — This is not the way JR Inman wanted to begin his senior year.

    Suspended. Injured. And patiently waiting for his chance to play.

    “It’s probably the toughest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with in my life because of the fact that it is my last year and I do have a lot of faith in this year’s team,” the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Inman said at Rutgers Media Day on Wednesday. “So it’s unfortunate but I always break it down to a scientific equation, two negatives equals a positive. Me and Jaron [Griffin] being out is a negative, but you combine it together, keep working hard and it can turn into a positive.”

    Head coach Fred Hill last month suspended Inman and Griffin, two of the team’s three seniors, “from game competition” for violating team policies. It remains unclear when they will be reinstated.

    “There is no timetable,” Hill said. “It’s when I feel they’ve done all the parameters I’ve put on them. As of this moment they’ve been outstanding. They’ve been great leaders, handled all business when they’re supposed to. They’ve been terrific ever since the decision came down.”

    Inman led Rutgers in scoring (12.2 points) and rebounding (7.2) last year, and Griffin averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds.

    The two are allowed to practice with the team, although Inman has been sitting out with an injured right knee.

    “It’s getting better every day,” he said. “It’s nothing serious, no surgery [or] tears, just a little stress from the amount of work I’ve been doing on it. [I’m taking] a couple days off. Certainly by the time I get back from the suspension, I’ll be ready to go and even before then.”

    Inman said he injured the knee during RU’s MidKnight Madness event earlier this month.

    “We were doing drills, dunk contests, stuff like that and I was jumping on it a lot afterward and it kind of hurt and then I got an x-ray and they just said it’s really stressed,” Inman said. “My bones aren’t fully developed. I’m still growing into my body so the stress that I put on it with my lack of rest really inflamed my right knee and so the next couple of days will help it quiet down a little bit so I’ll be ready to go.”

    Inman is highly optimistic about the team’s freshmen, especially former St. Anthony star Mike Rosario and former St. Benedict’s standout Greg Echenique.

    The 6-2 Rosario, who played for legendary coach Bob Hurley and won the New Jersey Tournament of Champions last year, reminds Inman of a certain former Rutgers star now in the NBA.

    “Sometimes I’m setting the ball screen and coming off and I think I’m still playing with Quincy Douby in terms of his physique and how he looks,” Inman said. “Obviously, he has a lot of work to do before he can fill those shoes. In the summer when we were playing, I’d say, You leave him open and I was screaming layup from 3 because he’s basically making it eight out of 10 times.”

    Inman also says the 6-9 Echenique is ready for the Big East right now.

    “I’m particularly surprised with Gregory,” he said. “I saw him play in high school and I thought he was a pretty good player. But it wasn’t until he came back from Venezuela when I realized how much of an impact he could have on this year’s team. A lot of freshmen you talk about what they can do in years to come, but when you talk about freshmen being Big East ready, I think that you’re talking about Gregory.”

    With so much young talent, you can see why Inman and others are excited to get the season started, even if the Knights are competing in a brutal Big East where seven teams were chosen in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

    “I’m holding up,” Inman said. “I’m just focused on each and every day with two main goals, and that’s to graduate and to win. And so when I get back, whether that’s the first game or the last game, if we’re winning and I’m making strides toward graduating, that’s all I’m really going to focus on because that’s what I’m all about.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.