Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rutgers' basketball signs three

The Rutgers University Men’s Basketball Program, under the leadership of second-year head coach Fred Hill, today announced that Mike Rosario (Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony’s), Christian Morris (Bronx, N.Y./South Kent School) and Patrick Jackson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys & Girls) have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for the Scarlet Knights. All three signees are rated among the top 25 prospects at their respective positions nationally, including Rosario, who was cited as the country’s 19th overall player by both ESPN and Hoop Scoop.

“We are very excited about this year’s recruiting class,” said Hill. “To sign three young men of this caliber out of strong, national programs in the region, goes directly to our philosophy of bringing in the best student-athletes in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia to build the Rutgers program. We are extremely pleased to welcome them into the Rutgers basketball family.

“Our three signees definitely bring a lot to the table. They all bring something different, but are all high-energy players that have an opportunity to have an impact in our program right away.”

The three recruits all hail from the Metro area and will arrive “On The Banks” after competing at some of the nation’s most successful and storied programs. St. Anthony’s has captured two national championships (1989, 1996), 24 state championships, and nine Tournament of Champions titles under head coach Bob Hurley, Sr. South Kent (Conn.), under the leadership of Raphael Chillious, is ranked No. 6 nationally in the 2007-08 preseason prep poll and has produced current NBA players Andray Blatche and Dorell Wright. Boys and Girls, under the direction of Ruth Lovelace, advanced to the PSAL Class AA Championship last year and produced legendary players Lenny Wilkens, Connie Hawkins and Pearl Washington.

“It is significant to bring in players that are extremely well-coached and that have competed against top competition in big games,” said Hill. “Young men that play at an elevated level in high school or prep school gain valuable experience that enables them to be more prepared for the BIG EAST.”

The signings complement Hill’s first recruiting class at Rutgers in 2007, which also had a regional flavor and an abundance of national accolades. Newark native Corey Chandler was rated nation's 10th-best guard prospect by Rivals, Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High School alum Mike Coburn was cited as the country’s No. 12 point guard recruit by, Philadelphia native Earl Pettis was the 37th-ranked small forward nationally by and West Milford product Justin Sofman was rated as the nation's 21st-best fifth-year player by Hoop Scoop. Chandler scored 16 points in the season opener versus Tennessee Tech, the most by a Rutgers freshman in a season opener since 1993, and enters Saturday’s game at Florida as the first Scarlet Knight rookie since 1996-97 to score in double-figures in his first three career games.

The Scarlet Knight are a perfect 3-0 after defeating Tennessee Tech (70-64), North Dakota State (79-67) and North Carolina Central (73-48) at the RAC as part of the Blue Ribbon Challenge. Rutgers final game of the tournament will take place Saturday evening (7:00 p.m.) against the two-time defending national champion Gators in Gainesville.

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