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.
NEW YORK — The way Bob Hurley sees it, Mike Rice is on the right track at Rutgers and could be primed for big things down the road.
Still, Hurley said, it may take until the 2012-13 season before fans really see the fruits of Rice’s seven-man recruiting class that includes St. Anthony senior point guard Myles Mack.
“Even though freshmen have a lot of impact, I’m not so sure they can move right up in that league [Big East],” Hurley said Thursday. “But I think by the time those kids are sophomores followed by some more kids they’ll have the nucleus.
“They just gotta be able to put two classes together now. I think they’re in good shape.”
Hurley, the newly minted Naismith Hall of Famer, made the comments as he was awarded the Joe Lapchick Character Award at Madison Square Garden, along with Texas women’s coach Jody Conradt and St. John’s assistant Gene Keady.
In the span of a couple days last April, Fred Hill was fired at Rutgers and Mike Rosario, the program’s first McDonald’s All-American out of St. Anthony, announced he was transferring to Florida.
Hurley quickly endorsed Rice for the job, knowing that he had the local recruiting ties and work ethic to transform the program’s losing culture.
“They’re not there with this year’s team,” Hurley said of the undermanned Scarlet Knights (1-1), who host Miami Sunday at 2 p.m. at the RAC. “Mike’s going to get them to work extremely hard. I knew this was going to be his mantra.”
Rice’s recruiting ties to people like Hurley and Playaz director Jimmy Salmon have indeed paid off in the form of a seven-man class ranked among the Top 10 nationally.
Hurley is especially familiar with Mack and 6-9 Rutgers-bound center Derrick Randall because they starred at Paterson Catholic.
The Friars downed the Cougars in last year’s North Non-Public B title game at Rutgers when uncommitted guard Elijah Carter (now at Brewster Academy) went off for 28 points.
“Derrick Randall is an athletic kid around the basket with big upside,” Hurley said. “I think offensively he is still unpolished but has a chance to really develop as an offensive player. He can run, he can rebound, he can block shots. He’s left-handed so he’ll be a big factor when he polishes his offensive game.
“And Myles is going to give them someone who’s already offensively sophisticated. He can shoot, he can make the open shot so he stretches the defense. He can get into the lane. He put eight pounds on already, so that’s not bad weight [165 pounds]. He’s gotten considerably stronger.
“We start next Friday and until the end of the season we’re going to really work hard to get him to be that on-the-ball defender that Mike Rice is really looking for.
“By us doing that it’s going to get him ready for next year and really help us.”
(Photo courtesy NJ.com)
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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.