Rutgers' Mulcahy able to revolutionize offense under Pikiell
When most Rutgers fans were previewing the season, the key focus was on the impact key returning contributors, like junior guard Geo Baker and sophomore forward Ron Harper Jr., would have.
But there’s another intriguing prospect for the Scarlet Knights (4-1) this year that could revolutionize their offense in the Steve Pikiell era: true freshman guard Paul Mulcahy.
A four-star prospect out of Gill St. Bernard’s in Bayonne, New Jersey, Mulcahy brings a skillset and upside that Rutgers hasn’t seen in years. What stands out the most about his game is his passing. At 6-foot-6-inches, he has the length and basketball IQ to find perfect passing lanes for his teammates. When he was signed last year, Pikiell said that he was “one of the best passers in the country.”
Mulcahy was arguably the biggest recruiting win that the Knights have had under Pikiell. During his senior season at Gill St. Bernard’s, Mulcahy averaged a triple-double with 18.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists — becoming the first New Jersey high school player to average a triple-double since 1993.
As New Jersey’s seventh ranked prospect, Mulcahy received 17 offers during his recruitment, including those from rival Seton Hall and tournament regulars like Florida and Virginia Tech. Ultimately, he decided to come to the Banks and play a part in what Rutgers fans hope will be a return to the postseason.
Mulcahy could also fill a major need for this Knights team. While they have a talented backcourt led by Baker and sophomore guard Caleb McConnell, Mulcahy is the prototypical pass-first point guard. Given that Rutgers was 224th in the country in assists last year, his court vision should provide a spark for the offense and get the team to the next level.
The talented freshman saw the court for the first time in the offseason, as the Knights traveled to Spain in August and played closed-door scrimmages. It was a new experience for Mulcahy, who says the competition in Europe gave him a better idea of what life after high school would look like.
"The players were older, (so a lot of the guys were) more physical," Mulcahy said. "They play with their heads more over there."
One of the biggest question for Mulcahy is how he would adjust to the physicality of the Big Ten. In high school, he was only 6-foot-6-inches and 186 pounds. Since coming to Rutgers, he's added 20 pounds and looks like a more physical player when driving to the paint.
Mulcahy hasn’t set the world on fire so far, only averaging 3 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. Pikiell has decided to go with Baker, McConnell and junior guard Jacob Young in the rotation over Mulcahy, opting for experience over potential to start off the season.
But as Mulcahy comes into his own, it wouldn't be surprising to see him featured more prominently in the rotation. It would draw comparisons to what Knights fans saw last year, as sophomore guards Montez Mathis and Ron Harper Jr. took minutes away from Issa Thiam and junior guard Peter Kiss in the latter part of the season.
Regardless of what the rest of his freshman year holds, Mulcahy has all of the intangibles you look for in a Big Ten point guard. For a team that needs a facilitator to take its offense to the next level, Mulcahy could be the guy it needs to get there.
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