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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If anyone can speak to the future of the Rutgers basketball program, it is Jonathan Mitchell, a member of the program’s recent past.
“Oh yeah, I’ve been playing with those guys every night the past week and a half,” J-Mitch said last week after his Nets’ workout.
The 6-foot-7 Mitchell said he’s especially impressed with one incoming member of Mike Rice’s vaunted recruiting class.
“I like Jerome Seagears a lot,” Mitchell said. “He’s going to be the new leader of that team, in my eyes, because he’s very vocal, he’s a floor general, directing traffic and he’s got a little moxie to him.”
The 6-1 Seagears is a Washington, D.C., native who will likely challenge fellow frosh Myles Mack for the starting lead guard duties. Both Seagears and Mack, along with incoming guard Elijah Carter, are the keys to the future of the Rutgers program over the next several years.
“These two point guards are going to be good,” Rice said by phone. “It is just pickup but both of those guys [Seagears and Mack] have a lot of potential.”
Mitchell said Mack is already coming in with hype behind him after leading Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony team to an undefeated season, the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title and a mythical national crown.
“He had a great high school career,” Mitchell said. “And he’s a knock-down shooter, so I’m definitely thinking that he can stretch out defenses.”
Kadeem Jack, a raw 6-10 post player from Rice High School, has been with the program since December.
“Right now he’s more of cagey, kind of step away from the basket, but once he gets bigger, stronger, I think he’ll be able to do damage inside,” Mitchell said.
Along with Jack, the new Rutgers post players include 6-9 Greg Lewis and 6-9 Derrick Randall, Mack’s former Paterson Catholic teammate and Jack’s former South Kent (Conn.) teammate.
“Greg Lewis and Derrick Randall are just big bodies right now, still developing in their offensive game, but those guys are physical specimens and athletic,” Mitchell said. “So is [Kansas State] transfer Wally Judge.”
Still, the Big East is a veteran’s league and Mitchell, the team’s leading scorer as a senior, knows the youngsters must pay their dues.
“At the end of the day, Coach Rice don’t really rely on freshmen but he’s going to have to this year, with Dane [Miller] and Austin Johnson,” Mitchell said. They’re going to have to come in and it’s going to be a team effort. I don’t think one player’s going to carry the team. Everybody’s going to have get their eight, nine, 10, 11 points a game, and that’s how Coach Rice plays anyway.
“It’s a team system.”
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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.