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5-star Naas Cunningham includes Rutgers in Top 5



Landon Bost/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY Network-Florida / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Thursday, 5-star small forward Naas Cunningham announced his final five schools that he was considering. To the surprise of many, the No. 5 ranked recruit in the class of 2024 included Rutgers. The other schools include Kansas, UCLA, Duke, and Memphis.

The 6-foot-7 junior is from West Orange, New Jersey. He previously played at Gill St. Bernard’s last season as a sophomore. Cunningham averaged 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1 block per game. He is currently playing for Overtime Elite in Atlanta. It is a professional basketball league for 16-20 year olds as a developmental step alternative to college. Because he is playing as a scholarship player and not being paid a salary, he has maintained his college eligibility.

In 16 games playing in Overtime Elite, he is averaging 14.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per contest.

Cunningham has reportedly taken unofficial visits to Rutgers, UCLA, and Duke with Memphis on deck next week. No word on a visit to Kansas as of yet.

He is a super athletic wing who can score in all three phases and flourishes in transition. Cunningham has length, can shoot off the catch, is a confident long range shooter, and is explosive at the rim.  He’ll need to bulk up with only weighing 180 pounds. It will better serve him at the high major level and beyond, making him harder to defend when attacking the rim. While not known as a great defender, he has all the skills to develop into one. His ceiling is extremely high.

Over the summer, Cunningham was ranked the No. 1 recruit in the 247 Composite rankings but is currently listed at No. 5. He is sandwiched between Rutgers’ top priority in No. 4 Dylan Harper and recent commit No, 6 Ace Bailey.

Harper’s stock continues to rise as he is having a tremendous junior campaign at Don Bosco Prep. The recruiting battle appears to be between Duke, Indiana and Rutgers. Some analysts consider him a Duke lean, but I believe Rutgers to be right in the mix. Steve Pikiell has attended several of his games this season as have several players. Pikiell’s proven history with developing his brother Ron Jr. is obviously a big chip to have.

Bailey committed last month and is the highest ranked recruit in program history. His ceiling as a player is incredibly high.

It was also reported on Thursday that 4-star guard Kur Teng is taking an official visit to Rutgers later this month. Teng is ranked No. 37 in the 2024 class and also being heavily recruited by Michigan State and Providence.

In addition, 4-star guard Dellquan Warren committed to Rutgers last month. He is ranked No. 101 in the class of 2024 and is already a top flight on ball defender.

Rutgers is working towards the highest ranked recruiting class in modern program history. I wouldn’t worry or try to figure out how many spots are available for the 2024-2025 season. It appears there would be four spots available but it is a fluid situation. It’s still a long time away and the current climate in college basketball has shown things can change quickly. Trust Pikiell and the coaching staff to know exactly what they’re doing.

If Cunningham joined Bailey, Rutgers would have a top ten class at a minimum. If both Cunningham and Harper choose RU, they could end up with the No. 1 class in 2024.

With 4-star and top 40 wing Gavin Griffiths arriving next fall along with Baye Ndongo and Bailey’s high school teammate Jamichael Davis, following up with an elite 2024 class would elevate the program to new heights. There is a long way to go in the recruiting cycle, but Rutgers is in an almost unimaginable position to land a program changing class.

You can watch highlights of Naas Cunningham here.

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  1. InPikeWeTrust

    February 10, 2023 at 12:26 am

    Aaron, don’t forget Ndongo. I have a funny feeling he might be a real gem. This stuff is getting silly. I have to admit when Pike spoke of winning Big 10 and National Championships, I didn’t take him very seriously. Obviously, we have to secure some of these young men yet, but it’s absurd how fast this program could potentially be elevated from scrapping our way into the middle of the pack of the Big to talk of the #1 class in the nation. No more Pike not being able to recruit nonsense…lol.

    • Aaron Breitman

      February 10, 2023 at 2:32 am

      Ah I finished the article on my phone on the train and that part didn’t save write. I actually did forget initially and then remembered before I posted. I agree I think he could be a major steal. Things are really escalating talent wise.

  2. BataliBoli98

    February 10, 2023 at 3:06 am

    It’s really unbelievable what Pikiell and his staff are getting done. Just to be in the conversation for these kids who are all being pursued by the perennial powers of the sport is amazing. Does RU have NIL deals that I’m not aware of? Again, credit to Coach Pikiell as I was sure that in the era of NIL that RU would have to build with “just” 3 and 4 star recruits. Instead, we have a 5 star that goes by “Ace” from Georgia coming, and RU is a finalist for Cunningham and Harper. It really is incredible. Go RU!

  3. pj43

    February 10, 2023 at 5:08 am

    Win and they will come! All that’s needed is a run to the Sweet Sixteen, in addition to all the deserved positive press Pikiell and the Rutgers program have received lately. The word is out in AAU land apparently.

    • Aaron Breitman

      February 10, 2023 at 10:13 am

      Pikiell doesn’t typically recruit through the AAU programs. He focuses on families and high school coaches.

      • pj43

        February 10, 2023 at 8:38 pm

        Thanks for the clarification. I was under the impression that there are some particular AAU programs that Pikiell avoids, but not all. I like the focus on family and coaches which I assume gives him and his coaching staff a much better idea of the character and suitability of a recruit for the Rutgers identity on and off the court. I’m very much in the Kobe Bryant camp that sees AAU basketball as “…doing a tremendous disservice to our young basketball players right now…”

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