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Aundre Hyatt’s importance increasing for Rutgers



Aundre Hyatt
The fourth-year players continues to prove his versatility this season. Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Aundre Hyatt has worn many hats this season for Rutgers men’s basketball. For the most part, they’ve fit him well due to his versatility and willingness to play team basketball.

He started the first nine games of the season with Caleb McConnell and Paul Mulcahy missing time due to injuries. Once they both returned and were ready to play more minutes, Hyatt moved to the bench. He embraced the role and became one of the best sixth men in the Big Ten. Hyatt played 14 straight games off the bench and before Mawot Mag was lost for the season.

In the four games since, Hyatt has resumed a starting role. However, against Wisconsin, his role changed right before tip-off as McConnell was a late scratch due to back spasms.

“He was going to have to guard a 4-man in Tyler Wahl, which he ended up guarding at times,” explained head coach Steve Pikiell during a call on Monday. “To start the game, he went right to the perimeter. Had to move to the 3 spot. He didn’t flinch.”

Hyatt’s 8 point, 9 rebound performance in the win over Wisconsin included tremendous defense and the game winning put back. His positioning, focus and effort was elite in the victory.

“Aundre hadn’t been getting a lot of the minutes at those other positions except for the four spot because of Mawot’s injury. Now all of a sudden, he played all of his minutes for the most part at the three spot. Totally different players (that you are) guarding (with a) totally different scouting report.”

In the last four games, Hyatt has averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists along with 3 blocks, and a steal in 30 minutes per game. He’s shooting 47.8% from two-point range and 36.0% from three-point range.

There are two underrated stats that highlight Hyatt’s value and reliability during this recent stretch. He has committed only 2 turnovers and 2 fouls over 120 minutes in the past four games.

“He’s done really yeoman’s work,” Pikiell said.

With the reality that McConnell could miss additional time starting with Thursday’s game against Michigan, Hyatt’s importance only increases.

Pikiell told The Scarlet Faithful in Monday’s call, “Right now he’s not doing anything. Trying to get him back. I don’t know about Caleb. I don’t know what will happen. Right now he would not play if there was a game today for sure. Maybe the next couple of days he’ll feel better but it doesn’t look good.”

The prospect of Rutgers being without McConnell, who leads the Big Ten with 2.5 steals per game in conference play makes this week even more challenging. The Scarlet Knights play two of the top four teams in the league in offensive efficiency. RU faces No. 4 Michigan at the RAC on Thursday night before traveling to No. 3 Penn State on Sunday night.

While RU was impressive in grinding out a win over Wisconsin on the road short handed, the Badgers are not on the same level offensively. They’re currently 12th in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency.

In addition to the impact it would have for Rutgers defensively, McConnell is also averaging 9.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. His potential absence will be felt on both ends of the floor.

The biggest reason for optimism for Rutgers is the recent play of Hyatt. All season, he’s been fearless and willing to play a key role. Now that needs and responsibilities have shifted, he’s proven his worth even more so. Hyatt is displaying a selfless attitude while continuing to bring a toughness to his team. He can defend multiple positions while scoring inside or out.

“He’s been great,” Pikiell stated. “He’s mature. He doesn’t go up and down. There’s no drama. Stays the course. He’s been a really good guy. He does a great job with game plans. He’s really focused on the game plans. Just really pleased with him.”

As Rutgers enters the stretch run of the season with many questions, Aundre Hyatt continues to answer every challenge thrown his way. That’s a major positive for Pikiell in a season that has had plenty of twists and turns to deal with before the calendar has even turned to March.

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  1. thevinman

    February 22, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    Watching how much better Mags and Hyatt are this year shows that some people take some time to develop, especially under the right coaching staff.

  2. pj43

    February 22, 2023 at 7:00 pm

    If only Aundre could finish at the rim, it would probably be 6pts per game added to his scoring average!

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