Steve Pikiell and the Rutgers coaching staff have been very active since the direct contact period for the 2025 class opened last Thursday. The program has contacted several prospects in the hours and days since they were able to make direct contact. This includes the top recruit in New Jersey, guard Darius Adams, who they already offered last fall. RU also offered the top shooting guard, Meleek Thomas, on the first day they could contact him. And Darius Acuff, arguably the recruit whose stock has risen the most this summer, was contacted by Rutgers and offered as well. In addition, the program hosted the first 2025 recruit since the contact period began last week. Point guard Nigel James tweeted that he visited Rutgers on Tuesday.
Blessed to receive an offer from Rutgers University❤️🖤 pic.twitter.com/QUM0Gyc3YE
— Nigel James (@nigel_j24) June 20, 2023
The 6’2″ point guard is from Long Island but plays for Cushing Academy in Massachusetts on the New England Prep Circuit. As a sophomore, James averaged 13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals in per game. Although James is not rated by any of the major recruiting services, it’s only a matter of time before he is.
He also plays for Expressions Elite AAU and recently impressed national college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman of the Stadium and Field of 68.
Goodman saw James play at the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Showcase on last Friday. He tweeted, “Cushing’s Nigel James is putting on a clinic here. So quick, athletic, terrific handle, creates for teammates, gets to basket whenever he wants, and is making 3′s and step-back jumpers. Really fun player to watch.”
Dylan Thayer, a scout for the New England Recruiting Report was also there this past weekend. He tweeted, “Nigel James of Cushing has had a huge spring. The shifty guard has a handle that keeps defenders on their toes, finishes through traffic on both sides of the basket, and has natural vision as a passer. Has offers from Marquette, St. John’s and Iowa amongst others.”
James also has earned offers from Creighton and Providence as well as George Mason, UAB and others. .
His AAU coach, Ken Jackson, recently told Adam Zagoria what makes James stand out.
“Nigel is a guard of all service,” Jackson said. “Standing 6-foot-2 with growing athleticism, he can run your show and get others involved with the best in the country. Or he can play uptempo and off-ball consistently be a scoring threat from all 3 levels. Nearly impossible to stop off ball screens and in transition.”
James’ high school coach, James Cormier, also spoke with Zagoria on the big picture in his development.
“I think a lot of these kids they play AAU, they go to showcases, they play a lot of games, but oftentimes in the summer kids lose sight of the value of winning,” Cormier said. “I think that’s what I’ve tried to instill in him this year, being an underclassman, just understanding how the significance of the position he plays and how important it is to just put that at the forefront of who he is at the player. If there’s nothing else, he’s going to help his team win,” he continued. “You know if the shot’s not falling, then he’s going to find ways to impact winning. Whether it be in a leadership role, defensively, facilitating, I think that’s what we try and really do with all guys here.”
Does James sound like a Pikiell type of player or what?
“I think what makes NJ [James] unique is that he has such an outgoing and attractive way to him,” Cormier said. “Kids enjoy being around him on and off the floor, so when he buys into that it becomes contagious it becomes contagious amongst the pieces and players within your program. As he moves forward and continues to grow and mature in that role, he’s just going to continue to elevate his stock.”
James displays burst and good decision making with the ball in his hands. He uses gravity to create space and his crossover can be deadly when attacking the rim. The floor general also can shoot from the perimeter and plays with a lot of confidence. He is certainly an intriguing prospect in the class of 2025 that has plenty of talent. Getting him on campus less than a week after the direct contact period began is impressive.
Rutgers has long recruited the New England area under Pikiell. They just landed 4-star wing Bryce Dortch from Massachusetts last week in the 2024 class. James’ stock will likely continue to rise in the next couple of years. However, the program has positioned itself well to be in the mix with James as his recruiting progresses.
You can watch highlights of James in action below.
Best point guard in 2025. Nigel James is a high major kid. D1s should be blowing him up nonstop. Watch what he does to the circuit this year! Don’t be afraid to make the first move coaches. pic.twitter.com/hiXI8XF1QD
— New England Basketball (@RecruitsNE) April 9, 2023
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