Seagears returns to team after transfer
There was a time junior guard Myles Mack believed Jerome Seagears would never be back.
“At first I thought he was gone because I didn’t think the guys that left really wanted to be here, but I guess the decision he made really wasn’t him,” Mack said after the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s practice Oct. 3.
Like others who departed from the program, Seagears had the opportunity to immediately play for a new team rather than wait a full calendar year before he could make his way back onto the floor.
Former guards Eli Carter and Mike Poole left for Florida and Iona, respectively. Forward Derrick Randall fled to former Big East rival Pittsburgh.
Seagears elected to play for Auburn head coach Tony Barbee, transferring May 1 to a team that finished last in the SEC with a 9-23 record.
Seagears, who averaged 6.5 points and 2.6 assists per game last season, figured to play a significant role with the Tigers. But just a month into his stay at Auburn, something did not feel right with his new team. So he picked up his phone and texted Mack.
Seagears said he also spoke with senior forward Wally Judge and junior forward Kadeem Jack, but Mack delivered the biggest sales pitch.
“We were definitely going back and forth,” Seagears said. “He was telling me we were going to do it big this year. He said, ‘Man, if you ever feel like changing your mind this year, just go ahead and do it.’ I just came down to the conclusion.”
Seagears transferred back to the Knights on June 10, as head coach Eddie Jordan was beginning to fill out the roster for the upcoming season.
Rutgers landed senior forward J.J. Moore, a transfer from Pittsburgh, along with sophomore wing Kerwin Okoro from Iowa State. Both will be available immediately for the Knights this season.
Jordan said Seagears brings an impressive game to his Princeton-style offense, which involves more set plays and backdoor cuts.
But like any coach, he sees room for improvement.
“We want him to really concentrate on his defense,” Jordan said. “We want him to catch up defensively with his offense. It’s going to be a challenge for him, but I want him to accept that challenge and be a really good defender.”
He will likely work on that with Mack, who said both compete against each other every day in practice.
They did the same thing when former head coach Mike Rice was around too, so when Seagears decided to leave, Mack’s training partner left as well. But he had an inkling Seagears would make his way back.
“I did miss going up against him,” Mack said. “But I knew I was going to go up against him again.”
Seagears said a combination of things factored into him coming back to Rutgers, though he would not say anything bad about his month stay in Alabama.
He is just happy to be back with his teammates, among other things.
“I wouldn’t say anything went wrong,” Seagears said. “But once you get accustomed to a certain lifestyle and a certain place — faces, tutoring, classes, it was just a matter of me building a foundation here and just stepping out and leaving. I think I felt good with coming back home, and I’m glad I made that choice.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.