After declaring for the NBA Draft as an early entrant back in March, Cliff Omoruyi has announced he will return to Rutgers on the final day to withdraw. Sometimes it’s not who you add, but who you keep that matters most. Getting Big Cliff back for the 2023-2024 season is a very positive development for Rutgers, to say the least. Credit to Steve Pikiell and the staff for giving Cliff the time and space he needed to make a decision he felt was best for him.
Omoruyi wrote on instagram, “I’ve built a legacy at Rutgers. Coach Pikiell has a vision for this program to compete for a national championship next season and I believe in his vision. I plan to fulfill my promise to my mom to finish what I started and graduate with a college degree. I’m excited for what’s to come. Rutgers Nation, Are You Ready?!”
Despite a strong performance at the G League Elite Camp in Chicago earlier month, Omoruyi did not earn an invite to the NBA Combine. He had several workouts for NBA teams since and was represented by a certified agency, allowing him to maintain eligibility. While he was not expected to be drafted, Omoruyi had options to consider that included the G League and playing overseas. I thought if he received a guarantee to be signed to a two-way deal by an NBA team, it could be enough for him to stay in the draft. His decision went down to the wire and his deadline day announcement wasn’t a formality. Ultimately, the Rutgers big man decided to return to Piscataway for his senior season.
There is no downplaying how important this news is for Steve Pikiell’s program.
Last season, Omoruyi became the first player to lead Rutgers in scoring, rebounding and blocks since the great Keith Hughes did it 32 years prior. Cliff brings Rutgers balance on the court with his physical presence, rim defending ability and emphatic dunking. His athleticism is elite and he’s been nothing but an unselfish player his entire career.
Cliff averaged a team high 13.5 points on 51.5% shooting along with 9.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 30.3 minutes per game last season. In Big Ten play, Cliff was third in league action with 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He was named an All-Big Ten Defensive Team selection along with being named Second Team All-Big Ten by the media and Third Team All-Big Ten by the coaches. The former 4-star recruit was 22nd nationally with a 9.1% block rate and 1st in Big Ten play at 9.4%. He was also 52nd nationally with a 24.5% defensive rebounding rate and 126th with an 11.5% offensive rebounding rate.
Fans at the RAC chanted “We want Cliff” before he ultimately committed to Rutgers back in 2020. The RU faithful get their wish for one more season as well. For now, there are three open scholarships for next season. Two additional spots are reserved for Paul Mulcahy and Jamichael Davis. The backcourt pair have yet to formally announce their return and arrival, respectively.
Here is what the Rutgers roster looks like as of today:
Frontcourt: Cliff Omoruyi, Mawot Mag, Antwone Woolfolk
Wings: Aundre Hyatt, Gavin Griffiths, Antonio Chol
Backcourt: Noah Fernandes, Derek Simpson
*Paul Mulcahy can potentially return*; *Jamichael Davis (expected to sign)*
Expect Rutgers to target a back up big man and guard/wing who can shoot in the transfer portal. More to come but for now, take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the return of Cliff Omoruyi. As Bill Belichick says, “Big day for Rutgers.”
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