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.
On the same day that Rutgers parted ways with center Brian Okam, Mike Rice and his staff hosted several top players from Brooklyn and Queens.
Okam, a 7-foot, 245-pound center from Lake Highland Prep School in Orlando, Fla., received his release from the school and won’t be back at Rutgers. Okam played in 16 games, averaging 1.1 point and 1.1 rebound a game.
That leaves 6-7 Jonathan Mitchell and6-8 Austin Johnson as Rutgers’ remaining big men.
Meantime, Maurice Harkless of Forest Hills, Kamari Murphy and Shaq Stokes of Brooklyn Lincoln and former Brooklyn Jefferson wing Joel ‘Air Jamaica’ Wright were all on campus and played pickup with the team. Tyler Harris was at Rutgers on Thursday.
Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton and Nate Blue, Harkless’ mentor, were also on campus.
“It was fun. The campus is nice and the coaching staff was really cool,” said the 6-foot-6 Harkless, who recently decommitted from UConn and opened it up. “I played against some of the kids on the team now. Dane Miller looked real good and a couple others as well. Mike [Poole] played well, too. He looks like he’ll fit in.”
No other visits are set up just yet for Harkless, who will play at South Kent in the fall.
“Maurice hit a lot of shots all over the place,” Blue said. “We got a chance to speak to coach Rice and [Van] Macon. Maurice is just trying to figure out where he will take officials come fall. But it’s very early in the process.”
Murphy, a 6-8 forward, and Stokes, a 5-10 point guard, came with Lincoln coach Morton.
“Coach Rice got a chance to see them up close,” Morton said. “We will probably be back more often.”
The 6-6 Wright also ran with the team and plans to visit Robert Morris Monday and Rice Thursday. He previously decommitted from Fordham and Manhattan.
Harris, a 6-8 2011 forward from Dix Hill (NY) Half Hollow Hills West, also visited Rutgers Thursday following visits to North Carolina, NC State and Duke.
“We toured the school and talked a lot to Mike Rice about the goals he has set at Rutgers and how he’s going to get Rutgers out of the cellar of the Big East,” Torrel Harris said. “Tyler felt coach Rice had a vision and realistic plan in place to help lift Rutgers to be one of the top in the Big East.”
Harris also plans to visit Syracuse and UConn soon.
In still other Rutgers news, former Rutgers commit Andrew Nicholas confirms he decommitted and is considering “Penn and St. Joe’s as of now.”
Nicholas is a 6-6 SF from Wrightsville (Pa.) Eastern York.
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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.