New faces ready to contribute to 2019-20 season
Facing a stacked conference within the Big Ten, the Rutgers men's basketball team had more wins last year in conference than it did in the past four seasons (seven).
Head coach Steve Pikiell is looking to keep the wheel turning by continuing to make waves of a winning culture by bringing in key additions like true freshman guard Paul Mulcahy, graduate student forward Akwasi Yeboah and junior guard Jacob Young.
All three players have come from programs that have a history of winning. Between schools like Texas (Young), and Coach Pikiell’s old stomping grounds, Stony Brook (Yeboah), hopes of bringing their winning attitude and experience to the locker room can be a bonus to this team.
Mulcahy, the 6-foot-6-inch combo guard also comes from a winning program (Gill St. Bernard’s High School). He is looking to take the Big Ten by storm with his versatility.
“(Mulcahy) is a terrific young man, from a great family, from a winning program, he is a winner,” Pikiell said. "And he’s big. He’s a big point guard who wants to pass the ball. He’s very unselfish and I think he could be a great defender. Love him, he’s in the gym all the time.”
Between his winning roots, unselfishness, versatility and gym-rat mentality, Mulcahy is one of the players that Pikiell seems to be ecstatic to have on board.
With the Scarlet Knights' top scorer forward Eugene Omoruyi departing from the team, they have enough depth to cover his absence. With his departure, it gives more opportunities for players like junior guard Geo Baker (12.2 PPG), sophomore guard Montez Mathis (8.5 PPG) and sophomore forward Ron Harper Jr. (7.8 PPG) to help the team fill the offensive void that Omoruyi has left behind.
All three of these are poised to excel in their roles this year, giving this team experience down the stretch. Alumnus center Shaquille Doorson was the other departure from the team. His parting from the team will also put other players in a position to succeed.
This can give more opportunities for returning players like junior guard Peter Kiss, sophomore guard Caleb McConnell, sophomore center Myles Johnson, senior forward Shaq Carter and sophomore forward Mamadou Doucoure to give the team more depth than ever.
Not to mention, the amount of experience this team will gain with that many upperclassmen is nothing but a positive in a conference stacked with seasoned players.
It seems the most excitement going into the season is the buzz around Yeboah. The 6-foot-6-inch forward is coming off a strong campaign at Stony Brook, averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds while managing to shoot 41.3% from the field last season.
At his time playing for the Seawolves, he earned a well-deserved All-American East honors.
Another exciting piece to Rutgers is Young. The junior guard from Texas will bring more depth and experience to an already deep squad. He put up a career-high 29 points in a loss versus Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament.
In the same game, he also knocked down a career-best 6 3-pointers. The Knights are probably overjoyed to have his scoring spark alongside an abundance of weapons on the hardwood already.
Pikiell is looking to capitalize on the seven wins in-conference last season. In the past, Rutgers has been a team where Big Ten teams would look at them as an "easy win." That's the past now. The Knights are primed to embrace the underdog mentality that will help fuel their season.
With the mix of experience, talent, versatility and the presence of a winning culture, Rutgers basketball is hungry for a successful season.
The Knights kick off the season on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. against Bryant at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).
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