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.
Paul Mulcahy Says Rutgers Among Schools Working Hardest
By ADAM ZAGORIAUNION, N.J. — If Rutgers is going to continue its upward swing under new coach Steve Pikiell, it will need to recruit at a high level — both locally and nationally — to compete in the Big Ten.
On the local level, that means getting involved early and often for young stars like Paul Mulcahy, the 6-foot-5 Class of 2019 point guard out of Gill St. Bernard’s and the NJ Playaz AAU program.
Mulcahy holds offers from Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Boston College and SMU and recently attended the Nebraska-Rutgers game at the RAC.
“I like how Coach Pikiell’s on this rebuilding thing and how he’s real big on New Jersey basketball,” Mulcahy said Saturday after scoring 14 points in a 52-45 win over Our Savior New American in the Metro Classic at Kean University.
“He’s going to try to get the New Jersey kids and he wants kids to stay and then we’ll really change the program, you know? He has a good pitch that way. Just the way he thinks, I love the way he thinks about the future and stuff like that.”
On Sunday, Mulcahy scored 13 in a loss to Oak Hill Academy (VA) at the Primetime Shootout at Roselle Catholic, but his point guard skills impressed legendary coach Steve Smith, who has coached guys like Brandon Jennings, Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony.
“We tried to key on him and switched every screen so as to not give him much room to work on offense,” Smith said. “He is a very cerebral player with good size. He can shoot it, drive it and finish at the rim, and is an excellent passer. I like his skill set on offense.
“He should improve dramatically with strength training. He has tremendous upside as he fills out and matures physically.”
Ironically, Mulcahy said he modeled his game after Rondo, among others.
“Rondo, that’s my favorite point guard. Rondo and Steve Nash,” he said. “Those are my favorite point guards.”
Mulcahy says he wants to continue developing his shooting form.
“I think my shot’s gotten better,” he said. “When I’m on, I’m on, so I’m trying to stay more consistent now, especially off the dribble, like in pick-and-roll situations. But catch-and-shoot I think I’ve gotten a lot better.”
As for the recruiting situation, he agrees that it may take a group of young players to come in together to help turn Rutgers around. Pikiell is among the many coaches recruiting Class of 2019 Ranney School stars Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis. Kentucky coach John Calipari was among the coaches watching them on Sunday night.
“Yeah, I think that would be real cool to have a bunch of kids in the same class in New Jersey,” he said. “Go to Rutgers, change the program, start something new, that’s what [Pikiell] talks about.”
Asked how much he speaks with Lewis and Antoine, Mulcahy said: “Not really about that yet, but we talk about it a little. Scottie and Bryan are like the big names in New Jersey right now, but all the kids in New Jersey we know each other through the AAU circuit and what not.”
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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.