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Seven players in the transfer portal who can help Rutgers basketball get back to the NCAA Tournament
By Kristian Dyer,
Following Tuesday night’s loss to Hofstra in the NIT, Rutgers basketball clearly needs to be active in the transfer portal. Tuesday night showed that head coach Steve Pikiell needs to make the transfer portal a priority and add at least one starting veteran piece this offseason.
Things don’t need to be blown up when it comes to the roster construct as there are some strong returning pieces to the program. A healthy Mawot Mag and a growing Derek Simpson are an encouraging core, to say the least. Add incoming four-star forward Gavin Griffiths and a season of Big Ten experience for Cam Spencer and that is a nice core for Rutgers basketball to build in around.
If Cliff Omoruyi should return, then it would obviously be great news for Rutgers. And don’t forget about Paul Mulcahy, who could potentially return to Rutgers as well for a final season.
While Rutgers should and will continue to build via their high school recruiting, the transfer portal has changed the college game.
If Rutgers wants to return to the NCAA Tournament next year, then here are some names in the transfer portal that could help the Scarlet Knights go dancing again. Scroll down to check out seven transfer portal candidates who could help Rutgers basketball.
Khaliff Battle (Temple)
This one has been touched on earlier , but Battle makes a lot of sense for Rutgers. A shooting guard who can score in multiple ways, Battle has the potential to be a game-changer for whatever team he picks out of the transfer portal. A former four-star recruit from New Jersey who was recruited by Rutgers, Battle could benefit from a season in the Big Ten to up his NBA draft stock.
Josh Cohen (St. Francis)
A four who can spread the court, Cohen is another New Jersey product who has the potential to be an impact starter at Rutgers. At 6-foot-10, he averaged 21.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game . He had strong performances in out-of-conference games earlier this season at Ohio State (18 points, 10 rebounds) and at Miami (30 points, nine rebounds). Cohen is a good passer and a solid defender. He fits a position of definite need for Rutgers. Were Omoruyi to return, he would combine with Cohen to make an impressive one-two punch in the paint for Rutgers. That's something the Scarlet Knights haven't truly had during the Steve Pikiell era.
Noah Fernandes (UMass)
Another guard, Fernandes is coming off a very strong season at UMass where he had 13.4 points and 4.1 assists per game . The knock against Fernandes will be a history of injuries (limited last season to 11 games with an ankle injury) and his height (5-foot-11). But Fernandes, when on the court, is fearless, a good scorer and a smart leader. Now, any recruitment of Fernandes hinges on the return of Paul Mulcahy and what role the coaching staff sees for Derek Simpson. If Mulcahy opts for one more season at Rutgers, then Fernandes would have to take a role as part of the rotation. Would that be enticing for him? Probably not.
Jameer Nelson Jr. (Delaware)
At Delaware last season, Nelson took a big developmental step in averaging 20.6 points and 3.6 assists per game. Nelson likes to play fast and with tempo. He is confident in driving to the rim despite being 6-foot-1 and he is a solid 30.7 percent from 3-point range. May not be what Rutgers is looking for at the guard position but the Haverford, PA product sure knows how to score. Nelson is a bit more of a combo guard so he might not fit at Rutgers. But he can score which could be intriguing for the Rutgers staff.
Primo Spears (Georgetown)
A point guard at Georgetown, Spears was a standout on a bad team. In an increased role this season, the multi-year started averaged 16 points per game while increasing to a 40.7 field goal percentage. He runs the floor well and is a reliable architect of an offense. From Connecticut, perhaps Steve Pikiell’s connections to the state and incoming four-star Gavin Griffiths will help in this one. Spears needs an upgrade in talent around him and also competition. Rutgers in the Big Ten will provide both. Primo could potentially play as more of a combo guard with Simpson running the floor. He is a shooter for sure and would make Rutgers more dangerous on the offensive side of the court. But is the fit there for Rutgers? If they believe Simpson is ready to take over (or Mulcahy comes back) then Spears might not be a part of their plans. Nonethless, he remains an intriguing option.
Yes, another guard. Timberlake is a 6-foot-4 guard who can shoot (17.7 points per game) and showed good defense last year for Towson. He can play at this level (scored 21 points against Clemson in December). He is an efficient shooter, posting 45.5 percent from the floor last season, a healthy 41.6 percent from behind the arc and an impressive 84.5 percent at the free throw line. With Cam Spencer already on the roster, the need might not be there for a player like Timberlake. But the Townson product is talented and could add some much-needed scoring punch to the Rutgers rotation.