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Rutgers reportedly showing interest in transfer big man Jay Pal



Evansville s Gabe Bobe (0) passes the ball as he s defended by Campbell s Jay Pal (15) during the University of Evansville Purple Aces vs Campbell University Camels game at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on Dec. 7, 2022. Photo credit Stan Sussina/ Courier & Press / USA TODAY NETWORK

The offseason has been a busy one for Rutgers men’s basketball so far. The Scarlet Knights made a splash in landing UMass point guard Noah Fernandes, rated the No. 50 transfer per analytics researcher Evan Miyakawa. Last week, 4-star recruit Baye Ndongo decommitted following the departure of longtime assistant Karl Hobbs.

As I said on my latest podcast episode, it was expected Rutgers would try to backfill Ndongo’s spot with a big man through the transfer portal. While head coach Steve Pikiell and the staff are likely considering multiple targets, one name linked to RU on Tuesday was Campbell grad transfer Jay Pal.  The Portal Report listed the Scarlet Knights among over two dozen schools who the big man said were showing interest in him. They include San Diego State, Arizona, Mississippi State, South Carolina, George Mason, Richmond, BYU and St. Bonaventure among others. He has one season of eligibility remaining.

The 6’9″ Pal started all 32 games for Campbell (16-18, KenPom No. 226)  in the Big South Conference during the 2022-2023 season. He averaged 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.4 assists and just under one steal in 31.0 minutes per game. Pal shot 58.0% from the floor (149-257). He made 25 of 75 three-point attempts for 33.3% and shot 71.6% from the foul line (58-81).

In the Big South Conference, Pal was No. 3 in blocked shots, No. 5 in rebounds and No. 16 in scoring. He led the Fighting Camels to the Big South title game and delivered a career high 26 points along with 10 rebounds in the loss to UNC Asheville. Pal was named to the Big South All-Championship team after averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assist and 1.2 blocks in four postseason contests. He shot 60% from floor and 84% from the foul line (16-19).

Pal finished No. 251 nationally with an offensive rating of 116.3 per KenPom. He was extremely efficient near the rim and was No. 32 nationally in shooting 67.8% from two-point range (116-171). The big man was also No. 38 in effective field goal percentage (62.4%), No. 41 in true shooting percentage (64.2%), No. 112 in block rate (5.8%), No. 240 in defensive rebounding rate (19.8%), and No. 413 in offensive rebounding rate (8.3%). He’s an effective two-way player who scored in double digits 23 times and registered seven double-doubles last season. Evan Miyakawa lists Pal as a 4-star transfer and No. 224 overall.

Prior to his one season at Campbell, Pal played two seasons at Jacksonville State in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He played 55 games and started 22 times over two seasons. Pal served as more of a role player for a team that won the regular season title in the ASUN and made the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Overall, he averaged 4.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 58.2% from two-point range at JSU.

In his first season, he began his post-scholastic career at the JUCO level for Clarendon (Texas) College, a top ten team. He played one season and averaged 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds. Pal shot 59.0% from the floor and 55.2% from three-point range.

JUCO Recruiting named Pal the No. 62 overall JUCO prospect during his lone season at that level. Prior to that, he play scholastically at Omaha Central in Nebraska before prepping one season at The Skills Factory in Atlanta, Georgia. This is the same school in which 4-star big man commit Lathan Sommerville played at last season before having a strong start to EYBL action this spring.

How hard Rutgers pursues Pal remains to be seen. However, he does fit an ideal profile for a potential frontcourt addition for next season. Pal is an efficient finisher inside and shooter overall who can create his own shot. He can also rebound, defend and has played plenty of Division I minutes. Remaining an effective player while making the jump up in competition is not uncommon during the transfer portal era.

With Cliff Omoruyi undecided and a month away from needing to decide, Rutgers can’t promise a starting role at the moment. However, they can offer an opportunity to battle for a key rotation spot for a team with top half Big Ten and NCAA Tournament aspirations.

Pal is an athletic big man who plays through contact, attacks the rim from the block, can shoot from the perimeter, rebounds on both ends of the court and has developed into a rim defender.

Having the bulk of last season’s core expected back, Pikiell needs to add to the roster with big that could become a regular contributor. If Omoruyi returns and Mag is fully healthy early in the season, Pal has the skill set and potential to become a capable back up at the 4 and 5 for Rutgers. He also serves a solid contingency plan as well. The staff connection with Pal’s prep school where current commit Lathan Sommerville also played could prove helpful if Rutgers attempts to land a visit from the Campbell transfer.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of the Rutgers men’s basketball offseason as the staff continues to work in building the 2023-2024 roster.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. BataliBoli98

    May 2, 2023 at 10:16 pm

    Pikiell really needs to be aggressive in finding a big man because I am getting more convinced that Cliff may opt to go pro. He can absolutely become something like what Paul Reed is for Philadelphia. Reed makes $4 million per season. Or, as a ceiling, Mitchell Robinson who makes $15 million per. The problem, as Aaron points out, is that Pikiell cannot tell someone like Pal that he will come to RU and be the starting center until there is a decision by Cliff. I doubt that Pal is willing to risk becoming a rotational F/C and likely won’t wait around for a month to see what Cliff will decide. That said, it is absolutely worth the pursuit.
    Go RU!

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