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.
The idea that Rutgers basketball can somehow be “fixed” by a magical savior has floated around for years and years.
It’s been a popular theme since at least the time I started working for New Jersey newspapers in 1997.
Kevin Bannon, Gary Waters, Fred Hill Jr., Mike Rice and now Eddie Jordan have all tried to get New Jersey’s state university turned around.
“Why can’t it be UConn?” one person recently asked me.
Theoretically, Rutgers should be good. It’s the state university of New Jersey and can draw upon talent from New York through New Jersey and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. The school is now part of the Big Ten.
But so far, it hasn’t happened. The program hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991, when the elder George Bush was in the White House.
During that time, coaches like John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim and Coach K have consistently raided New Jersey for its best players. (See Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Ennis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Isaiah Briscoe as recent examples. Might as well throw Tyus Battle onto that list as well.)
In recent years, the idea that a member of the Hurley family — Danny, Bobby or Bob Sr. — could get the program on the right track has sprung up at various times. Bob Sr. advised the school in the search that eventually led to Rice’s hire. He then said he wouldn’t coach the program after Rice was fired. And Danny turned the school down in order to remain at Rhode Island.
Now The Star-Ledger has Rutgers fan excited about the possibility of another native son, former St. Patrick and current Montverde (FL) coach Kevin Boyle, returning to somehow help the program.
The paper sent a reporter down to Florida recently, and asked the legendary former St. Patrick coach — who has mentored Irving, Kidd-Gilchrist, Dakari Johnson and now Ben Simmons — his thoughts on Rutgers.
“It doesn’t seem like anybody’s been able to do it and sustain it in keeping the Jersey kids home,” Boyle told The Ledger. “Kevin Bannon almost had it. He almost got Jason Williams and [Troy] Murphy, and that might have gotten them over the hump. So you’ve got to get it going and then you’ve got to keep it going.
“You also have to have the respect and the relationships with the important guys of high school and important travel team guys. Because quite frankly, a lot of these [top players] are looking to either their high school coach or their travel team coach for some advice where to go. So you gotta have those guys thinking you know what you’re doing, thinking you work hard, thinking you can help their guy get to the NBA level or the European level.”
Boyle currently coaches the No. 1 prep team in the nation and has won back-to-back mythical national championships. He’s coaching another future lottery pick in the 6-10 Simmons.
Oh, and he works on campus that’s nicer than a lot of small or mid-major colleges and he’s getting paid more than some of those coaches, too.
Still, Boyle has been in the mix for college jobs before — St. Peter’s, Monmouth — but came up short.
If Dan Hurley can make the jump from high school (St. Benedict’s Prep) to college (Wagner, Rhody), you have to think Boyle can do it, too.
Will he get the chance? Will it be at Rutgers?
Who knows, but for now he’s saying he’s happy where he is.
“But again, I’m really happy and right now they obviously have a coach,” Boyle told the paper. “I’m happy where I’m at, and I hope the best for Rutgers.”
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd Like Zags on Facebook
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.