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Now in for Rutgers: previewing new recruits

For the majority of incoming college student athletes, practice starting in July amid the heat of summer is a given when committing to compete at a university. For transfers and early enrollees, the upcoming season starts now, in the spring.

Rutgers Athletics' ability to recruit quality student athletes both inside and outside the state of New Jersey has been an imperative quality in developing promising players.

As the spring semester begins to wind down within the next six weeks, the Scarlet Knights will welcome recruits from both in and out of the Garden State to the Banks. 

Here are four noteworthy recruits that hope to make an impact on their respective teams as they transition from high school to Rutgers, bringing their arsenal of skills to the State University of New Jersey.

Paul Mulcahy

This past season, the Rutgers basketball team reached a program-record seven wins in the Big Ten, one of the nation’s most prestigious and challenging college basketball conferences.

And things are looking up for the most improved Power 6 conference, according to the kenpom.com ratings, who averaged 1.05 years of experience.

Incoming guard Paul Mulcahy is one of New Jersey’s most highly touted recruits. Coming out of the elite basketball program of Gill St. Bernard’s, he has taken the local high school hoops world by storm, averaging a triple double — 18.1 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game and 10.1 assists per game — the first high school player to do so in more than 20 years.

"I want to come in, work harder than ever and help better this program and University," Mulcahy said.

He chose Rutgers over Florida, Marquette, Northwestern and in-state rival Seton Hall, among others.

"He's a very talented kid," said Gill St. Bernard's head coach Mergin Sina on the 6-foot-6-inch Mulcahy. "He has a very high basketball IQ, one of the best, if not the best, of anyone I've ever coached. He's simply a winner, he's all about wins for the team."

Mulcahy has practically carried a top-five program to four consecutive Somerset County Tournament titles. In this year’s county tournament, he scored 20 points in Gill St. Bernard’s’ 20-point win over Watchung Hills.

Despite losing to Roselle Catholic in the NJSIAA Non-Public North B title game in his new home of the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), a game where he was held to just 7 points, Mulcahy brings to campus a budding high-profile player skill set. 

A versatile guard, Mulcahy will share the backcourt with the likes of guards sophomore Geo Baker and true freshman Montez Mathis and a new face — junior Jacob Young, who redshirted this season after transferring from Texas.

"He's a 6-6 pass-first point guard. I think he is one of the best passers in the country,” Pikiell said. “He's a winner, from a winning program. He plays the game the right way. People are going to love his tenacity and his toughness.”

Maori Davenport

Considered a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, incoming forward Maori Davenport’s senior season at Alabama’s Charles Henderson High School in Troy was initially deemed ineligible to compete. 

After she led the U.S. National Team to a gold medal while serving as the team’s block (15) and rebound (seven per game) leader in the FIBA Under-18 Women’s Americas Championships last summer, she was given a stipend that exceeded the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s limit of $250 for a payment. 

Despite filing several failed appeals, Davenport was eventually granted eligibility to compete for the Trojans on Jan. 11.

Fast forward to March. Yesterday, it was announced that the heralded 98-rating recruit, per ESPN, was selected to play in the NCAA Next Generation for Women mini-camp. Participants are from select USA Junior National Teams and the NBA Academies program.

Along with Baylor transfer sophomore guard Alexis Morris, head coach C. Vivian Stringer is gaining another skilled guard in Davenport.

The 6-foot-4-inch Alabama native averaged 15.4 points per game, 13.2 rebounds per game and totaled 181 blocks her sophomore season at Charles Henderson High School.

“It is evident, that by Maori being selected to the 2018 FIBA U18 All-Tournament team that she is one of the post players next in line to represent USA Basketball on the world stage,” Stringer said.

Maddie Brant

The Rutgers women’s soccer team is getting a highly touted player of its own in defender Maddie Brant.

The Maidstone, England native has competed for Chelsea FC in the FA Development Cup and was even invited to the England Women’s Under-17 National Team’s training camp in 2017. “From the moment I stepped onto campus I could feel how proud the players, staff and coaches were to be a part of Rutgers University,” Brant said. “To be given the opportunity to become part of the Rutgers family myself is a huge honor.”

Jo Jo Aragona

Incoming freshman Jo Jo Aragona from Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, has been cited as a potential replacement for graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault. 

As head coach Scott Goodale’s second commit of the 2019 class, Aragona was a three-time state medalist and is considered the No. 1 recruit at 141 pounds and No. 6 overall by FloWrestling. 

Last season as a junior, he compiled a 41-2 record, posting a third-place finish at the NJSIAA Wrestling Championships.

Aragona bolsters a plethora of accolades, most notably three-time region and two-time district champion selections.

For updates on Rutgers Athletics, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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