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.
Greg Echenique, a sophomore forward at Rutgers who was part of head coach Fred Hill’s heralded recruiting class that also included former St. Anthony guard Mike Rosario, is transferring.
The 6-foot-9 Echenique has been given a conditional release that includes a limited number of schools.
“Gregory has been a valuable member of our program,” Hill said in a statement. “We are appreciative of his contributions at Rutgers and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
A native of Guatire, Venezuela who starred at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, Echenique started all seven games in which he played this season. He averaged 12.6 points and 7.7 rebounds-per-game, while shooting 61 percent (28-46) from the field with 16 blocks.
Echenique is the fourth member of the Rutgers program to leave in the last year. Corey Chandler was dismissed from the team in August, and Christian Morris (December 2008) and Earl Pettis (May 2009) both transferred.
Echenique was accidentally poked in the left eye Nov. 16 by a teammate during the preseason in a unofficial scrimmage at Rutgers. He then underwent successful surgery Dec. 9 to repair a detached retina. His surgeon told him not to touch a basketball for eight weeks and he would not have been eligible to return to action until at least mid-February.
On Dec. 19, Rutgers announced that he would seek a medical redshirt.
Echenique’s parents, Maria and Jose, came up from Venezuela to meet with the Rutgers staff. After a meeting earlier this week with Hill, his staff and the medical staff, Echenique opted to transfer.
Needless to say, this is a blow to Hill and his staff, who are already feeling the heat from much of the fan base. The program has won a total of eight Big East games over the past three-plus seasons, including a 2-16 mark last year.
Echenique was meant to have been a cornerstone of the program’s future, along with Rosario, sophomore Pat Jackson and freshman Dane Miller.
Without Echenique for the season, the Scarlet Knights already had to rely more on senior center Hamady N’Diaye, as well as freshmen Austin Johnson and Brian Okam.
Now the Knights won’t have Echenique at all going forward.
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.