Seton Hall is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade.
Rutgers has knocked off two Top 10 opponents in the last two weeks.
All of that is good news for New Jersey’s Big East programs in terms of recruiting, but they must keep up the winning.
“In my opinion, the best kids in the state will start looking at Rutgers and Seton Hall when they start winning consistently,” said Roselle (N.J.) Catholic coach Dave Boff, whose team has one of the top juniors in the state in 6-foot-7 forward Tyler Roberson. (Read his player blog here.)
“I think both those programs have really young coaches that have breathed life into those programs and have them seemingly going in the right direction. I think that the wins against quality opponents — the wins against UConn and Florida for Seton Hall and Rutgers — are probably more important than the overall Top 25 ranking.
“You can go in and out of the Top 25 throughout the year. That doesn’t bother kids, they want to know if you’re going to be able to compete against the top teams in the country.”
New Jersey is loaded with talented 2013 players like Roberson; the Hudson Catholic duo of Reggie Cameron and Mike Young; St. Benedict’s Prep point guard Tyler Ennis and forward Isaiah Watkins; St. Patrick wings DeAndre Bembry and Jared Nickens; St. Anthony guards Josh Brown (committed to Temple) and Hallice Cooke; and Gill St. Bernard’s point guard Jaren Sina.
“As all the local schools get better and get more momentum and get more pub, the younger kids in Jersey and New York will start maybe looking to stay at home more,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said.
Asked if Roberson — who holds offers from a slew of big-time programs across the country — had expressed more interest in the Jersey schools recently, Boff said, “I do know that he’s watching them closely and he likes both of those schools and likes the coaching staffs at both of those schools.
“And when you couple a kid that likes the coaching staff and then he’s also seeing them start to have some success…I think that that makes them a much better candidate for him than if they were consistently struggling.”
Last week — before the Top 25 ranking but after Seton Hall upset then-No. 8 UConn — the Pirates got a verbal commitment from 5-foot-6 2013 point guard Aquille Carr of Baltimore (Md.) Patterson.
“With Seton Hall getting Aquille Carr, I think it’s a good get and I think higher-ranked players will start to consider those schools, definitely,” Tony McIntyre, Ennis’ father and a coach with CIA Bounce, told SNY.tv.
Still, McIntyre said Carr’s decision likely rules out Seton Hall for Ennis. (Sina already knocked the Pirates off his list.)
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to send two point guards to the same school,” McIntyre said. “If you see Aquille Carr play, and with Tyler, both of those guys need the ball in their hands. And I think you take away from each of their games if they have to share it or by telling one guy that he should have it more than the other.
“It’s not the ideal situation that we’re looking for now that they have Aquille Carr…and especially that he’s another 2013 point guard.”
McIntyre previously told SNY.tv Arizona, Louisville, Memphis, Kansas, Syracuse and Georgia Tech were working hardest on Ennis.
“Now if they [Seton Hall] didn’t have [Carr], yeah, then I think it would’ve been something that we would’ve looked at,” McIntyre said.
Still, McIntyre said a player like the 6-8 Watkins would consider Seton Hall “because of the position it makes sense.”
Hall of Fame St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley said that if the local schools can continue to get players from the Garden State, they can succeed going forward.
“In any one year in New Jersey is a good year,” he said. “If you’re able to get a kid or two off the projected All-State team to stay in the local schools, they’re going to be good.
“When Seton Hall made the run to the Final Four in ’89, basically other than [Ramon] Ramos and [Andrew] Gaze, I think the entire team was comprised of New York City kids.
“When you’re in the Big East you’re going to get some national recruits come to the league but in your own neighborhood is where you really have to win the battle. I think Rutgers started doing it a little bit with that class, and I think people slept a little bit on who Kevin Willard’s been able to recruit because maybe people didn’t know those names, but all those kids are playing well.”