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Steve Pikiell discusses the roster moving forward



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers men’s basketball head coach Steve Pikiell discussed many topic in the last episode of his season long podcast on Tuesday. Most notably, Pikiell went in depth in regard to roster management and the approach moving forward this offseason.

Play-by-play radio announcer and host Jerry Recco asked around the 20 minute mark about the roster and the timeline for players to make decisions.

“They make decisions on their own time now,” explained Pikiell. “All of them have a lot of different opportunities. They have to explore what’s in their best interest.”

In regard to exploring professional opportunities, Pikiell said the program was fortunate to have players able to consider that level. Both Cliff Omoruyi and Paul Mulcahy can return next season, but no decision has been made yet.

“Every year, and we are lucky that we have players of that caliber that can continue playing. Their job and I encourage it, just like Ron Harper Jr., see what they’re saying, get feedback,” Pikiell explained. “Always make great decisions for yourself. This is the one time you can be selfish for yourself. Make good decisions moving forward. They all have opportunities. Caleb is going to sign with an agent and he’s going to have his opportunities. Cliff will have his opportunities to explore. Paul is in grad school right now. He has professional opportunities to pursue.

Pikiell continued in discussing two other veterans that have decisions to make.

“Same thing with Aundre Hyatt. Oskar has opportunities to go home (Sweden) and do some things. Also opportunities to look into for himself. You want them to explore those opportunities.”

As for a timeline on those type of decisions, Pikiell said, “At some point and time they let you know, which you need in order to move forward with your program.”

A major question this offseason aside from the status of certain starters and key contributors is players on the end of the bench. On Tuesday night after Pikiell’s podcast was published, a report from 24/7 High School Sports stated that Jalen Miller had entered the transfer portal. More could follow.

“The other guys that didn’t play as much, they have opportunities too to explore,” Pikiell said before the news of Miller leaving. “It’s an exciting time for the program. It’s also an exciting time for these guys. College basketball has changed. The portal has changed. You sit down with all of them and you want them first and foremost to be happy. You want them to know that there is a place for them. But if they’re looking for guarantees, this isn’t a guarantee kind of program. You have to come back to work next year and figure things out. We are in the process of sitting down with all of them right now. I want them to make good decisions.”

Pikiell did seem confident that a strong core of players who contributed this season will return.

“Excited about getting Mawot Mag back,” he said. “Excited about Cam Spencer and Derek Simpson. Wolf (Antwone Woolfolk). (Antonio) Chol who didn’t play as much but is going to factor into our future moving forward.”

As for new additions, Pikiell mentioned an obvious one.

“We’re excited about Gavin Griffiths, the highest rated player we’ve ever signed,” he exclaimed. “We’ll have other additions to our roster. A lot of different things going on. We have to explore opportunities out there with guys becoming available. The next few months will be exciting.”

In regard to expectations as to when the team will be more solidified for next season, Pikiell commented, “June is when you probably know your roster at that point and time.”

One advantage that Rutgers will have this summer is the benefit of taking a trip overseas as a program. They last did so in 2019, the summer before the program’s only 20 win regular season in four decades. Although Pikiell did not announce the destination yet, he did highlight the positives that come when taking a trip as a program.

“We’re excited about this summer. This is our opportunity to go overseas. Once every four years you get that opportunity as a program,” Pikiell explained. “We did Spain a few years back. We are going to take a trip overseas which gives us 10 practices before that. Our trip will be in August. It will be a fun trip playing some pro teams over there. Guys will get a chance to start our season a little bit earlier. Especially playing high level basketball teams. Our journey will push forward in August when we get an opportunity play some real teams on the road and you get to steal ten practices.”

It was a roller coaster season for Rutgers men’s basketball. The good news is Pikiell’s steady approach and the program being on stable ground. In addition to consensus high 4-star Gavin Griffiths arriving, newly anointed 4-star big man Baye Ndongo and slashy guard Jamichael Davis are part of the incoming 2023 class. Of course, exploring options within the transfer portal is a must as well.

How many roster spots need to be filled will be determined over time. With Miller departing, technically the roster is at full capacity if every other player returns. It seems unlikely everyone else will return though, based on options players will have and the nature of the sport now. With the offseason officially underway, watching Pikiell reshape the roster will be exciting to follow.

Earlier this week, I covered the need to increase the speed limit as to how Rutgers can win games, My thoughts on roster needs, style of play and more to come soon.

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  1. Henry Rutgers

    March 22, 2023 at 6:12 pm

    Having read but not listened to the podcast, it sounds as if coach is saying Mulcahy will probably not return, Cliff is a maybe yes/maybe no and Palmquist should go home for the summer and stay in Sweden. Yes, I’ve grossly over simplified and interpreted the messaging through my own filter but that’s kind of how I read the statements.

    Cliff would leave a massive exposure and we’d be loath to scramble for a talented center as late as June. He is the one I worry most about. He can really help himself with another year of experience and work on his game around the rim. He’s an incredible talent. He needs more development and selfishly stated, I think we need him more than he needs us.

    The Choi comments leave me scratching my head. I don’t recall seeing him play at all. If he did it was unremarkable. The EU trip sounds like a great opportunity for the team and incoming players. Another quality article Aaron.

  2. thevinman

    March 22, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    Aaron, thanks for linking coach Pikiell’s podcast.

    Cliff needs to come back to develop his offensive game, but who really knows what he will do.

    I hope Palmquist comes back as he would be a valuable contributor off the bench.

    Paul was hurt a lot and looked absolutely spent mentally and physically by the end of the year. I would like to see him come back but it would not surprise me if he left, or even stopped playing basketball altogether.

    Not sure what Andre will do but he sure needs work if he stays.

    • FlaRef

      March 23, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks for the update on the state of the state of RU bb. When in the deadline for NLI signing in April? Good to get these guys locked in the program on signing day then the musical chairs begin. Maybe a new era in RU bb with some scoring punch added to the lock-down D game plan. Pike needs a deep bench to get over the hump and make a run at the B1G top four and the Dance.

      • Aaron Breitman

        March 23, 2023 at 4:35 pm

        Regular signing period begins April 12.

  3. BataliBoli98

    March 23, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    As I’ve said before, I am sure that Jalen is a great kid but he is clearly not a B1G caliber player. That roster spot is much needed. Oskar is a mystery since I am not sure if Pikiell really wants him back. Let’s not forget that he didn’t see the floor for about a month’s worth of game action. That says a lot. Finally, I am with Henry Rutgers in saying that Cliff’s decision is vital. Let Woolfork play the 4 and have Baye backup at the 5 and 4 spots. That would enable Pikiell to prioritize an additional scorer. I know that he was somewhat polarizing, but a Jacob Young type who can attack the basket would be nice.

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