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Rutgers has connection to highly sought after 2025 point guard



Cass Tech guard Darius Acuff (5) dribbles against Muskegon guard Anthony Sydnor III (4) during the first half of the MHSAA boys Division 1 final at Breslin Center in East Lansing on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Photo credit Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rutgers men’s basketball has been very active since last Thursday’s direct contact period started with the 2025 class. Two top 25 prospects who are coveted across college basketball is the No. 1 shooting guard in the class, Meleek Thomas, and the top recruit in New Jersey, No. 4 combo guard Darius Adams. Head coach Steve Pikiell and the coaching staff have made both a priority. RU offered Thomas last week. The Scarlet Knights contacted Adams immediately once the window to do so opened after offering him last fall. However, there is another backcourt player that is far less heralded but who is taking the recruiting world by storm on the EYBL circuit this summer. And while Rutgers is one of many schools to have offered Darius Acuff, they do have a connection that gives them a real chance with the national recruit.

There might not be a more hot recruit in the 2025 recruiting class than the 6’1″ point guard. Acuff led Cass Technical out of Detroit, Michigan to its first ever Division I state championship. He led his school to a 27-1 record and averaged  21.4 points along with 5.7 assists per game. Acuff was named the 2022-23 MaxPreps Michigan High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-2 sophomore guard led the Technicians to a 27-1 record and the school’s first Division 1 state championship.

Rutgers reached out to Acuff last week as soon as they were able to last Thursday. They were not alone as Joe Tipton tweeted that just under a dozen schools contacted the talented floor general. However, the lead recruiter for the Scarlet Knights at least brought established relationships to the table when making an offer to Acuff. New assistant coach Marlon Williamson, who has been an assistant coach at multiple Division I programs including Pitt, worked for nine years with The Family, Acuff’s AAU team. Williamson was head coach and president of Youth Operations during his time with the Detroit-based program on the Nike EYBL circuit.

Acuff has flourished in 17 games playing for The Family, who are 10-7 this summer. He has been their best player by a wide margin and is fourth in the EYBL in scoring. Acuff is averaging 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.4 steals in 28.8 minutes per game. He is shooting 43.6% from the floor, 35.9% from three-point range (46-128) and 82.4% from the foul line (42-51).

Out of all the underclassmen on the EYBL circuit, Acuff has arguably performed the best through four sessions. It’s why his offer list has exploded despite not being rated by 247 Sports, On3 or Rivals. However, ESPN rates him a 4-star prospect and No. 45 overall in the 2025 class. The other recruiting services should catch up soon. Acuff holds offers from Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio State, Rutgers, Pitt, Nebraska, and Providence.

He is a dynamic offensive player who can create space and scoring chances off the dribble, attacks the rim and can knock down threes in bunches. Acuff had one game in the EYBL in May in which he made 8 of 16 shots from behind the arc. He plays under control and has an old school way about him in how he operates running an offense. His decision making and ability to use his gravity effectively make him difficult to defend.

Acuff continued to turn heads at last week’s Nike Elite 100 camp. He led the event in scoring and was extremely efficient.

As a rising junior, Acuff’s stock is likely to continue to rise in the months and years to come. However, Rutgers certainly should be considered in the mix for now with the Williamson connection. His relationship with associate head coach Brandin Knight opened the door to joining Pikiell’s coaching staff. If Williamson can recruit close to the level that Knight has in his long tenure at RU, then it will be a major positive for the program. Having a chance with a lead guard like Acuff is certainly intriguing and something worth tracking on the recruiting trail.

Watch Acuff in EYBL action for The Family from the last couple months below. His ability to blow by multiple defenders and finish near the rim, all while being able to pull up and drill multiple threes is extremely impressive. He is a true playmaker.

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  1. RUinChiTown

    June 20, 2023 at 1:03 pm

    While “direct contact” only just began, do we know if any RU coaches have seen — in person — any these top prospects already?

    • Aaron Breitman

      June 20, 2023 at 2:35 pm

      Yes the April live recruiting period is part of the EYBL season. The staff would also never offer kids they haven’t seen and looked into. The contact period is a bit dated especially with its midnight start. The staff have spoken to recruits coaches as well. In Darius Adam’s case, they watched him play live multiple times during the high school season as well.

  2. pj43

    June 20, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    I like “old school” below the rim style players who are under control at the guard position. Maybe that’s because I’m old. There’s a lot to like about his game. Notable to me was his ability to shoot off the dribble AND catch & shoot with a quick release. I hope Rutgers can stay in the mix with Williams as the point man during the recruiting process.

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