December 2016 | Page 17 of 23 | Zagsblog
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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.
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Thursday / May 30.
  • For the first time since he took the Rutgers job in June, Steve Pikiell will return to his old stomping grounds at Stony Brook on Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN3).

    And he will do so as the coach of a Scarlet Knights team that is off to a red-hot 8-1 start, having already won more games this season than former coach Eddie Jordan did all of last year when Rutgers went 7-25.

    “It was part of the contract [which stipulates a home-and-home with Stony Brook coming to the Rutgers Athletic Center in 2017], but Stony Brook for 11 years just was a special place for me and my family,” Pikiell, who won his 200th career game on Tuesday against Central Connecticut, said by phone. “The community, they embraced us and embraced the program so it’s one of those things where you go back with a lot of thoughts and memories and when you get the Rutgers job, you don’t really get a chance to say goodbye and thank you to all those great people and all the great people at Stony Brook University.

    “So you go back with some mixed emotions, you know what I mean?”

    Rutgers and St. John’s remain in hot pursuit of Naz Reid, the 6-foot-11 Class of 2018 Roselle (N.J.) Catholic big man.

    Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell used his day off on Wednesday to scout Reid, while St. John’s assistant Matt Abdelmassih was also there.

    Kentucky is also recruiting Reid but has yet to offer. The Wildcats play Hofstra on Sunday at Barclays Center, although Reid is not expected to attend. Louis King, a 6-8 small forward from Hudson Catholic who is Reid’s Sports U teammate, is expected to attend to watch Kentucky.

    Reid holds offers from a slew of high-majors, including Kansas, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers and St. John’s, but says he’s not yet focused on his recruitment.

    **Donnie Tillman, the 6-7 power forward from Findlay (NV) Prep, says has a timetable in mind for his recruitment.

    “I’m going to sign during the late period and probably commit mid-season,” said Tillman. “Hopefully, I will commit before the national tournament.”

    Tillman, who took an official visit to Utah last month (Nov. 28), plans to visit TCU later this month. “I have a TCU visit coming up on December 29,” said Tillman. “I just want to make sure that I go to right spot.”

    **Brandon Slater, the 2018 shooting guard from Paul VI (VA) High School, says five schools are working the hardest for his recruitment: Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, Villanova and Miami. He broke down each school for ZAGSBLOG.

    A year ago, Ben Simmons became the first No. 1 overall draft pick to be eligible for — and miss — the NCAA Tournament since Michael Olowokandi in 1998.

    Is Markelle Fultz destined to follow in his footsteps?

    The 6-foot-5 Fultz — the projected No. 1 pick in 2017 by DraftExpress.com — scored 25 points Wednesday night but his Washington team was obliterated by No. 8 Gonzaga 98-71 at The Kennel.

    Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies are now 4-4 and have dropped three straight.

    Their next chance to topple a ranked team doesn’t come until a Jan. 4 date with No. 24 Oregon in Pac-12 play. After that they play No. 2 UCLA and No. 20 Arizona twice apiece.

    Kevin Knox remains one of the highest-profile uncommitted prospects in the Class of 2017.

    And his friends who have now committed are hitting him up hard to get him to join them.

    “I’m getting a lot of texts,” Knox, who is down to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State, told USA Today. “It’s pretty cool; all those guys are my boys so it makes sense.

    “Both Wendell and Gary at Duke have been hitting me up a lot,” said the 6-foot-8 Knox, who is ranked No. 7 overall in the ESPN 100. “Quade, P.J. and Nick have been hitting me too wanting me to team-up with them. I just came back from FSU last weekend and so, of course, I got the speech about what playing there would be like. Then North Carolina fans are crazy about me so they’re constantly hitting me up, so I get a lot of contact from people from each school.”

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