PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Amid the turbulence of the Mike Rice firing last April, Rutgers standouts Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack both said multiple schools tried to recruit them to transfer.
“A lot of schools called, a lot of schools called, around 7 to 10,” the 6-foot-9 Jack, a redshirt junior, told SNY.tv and the Daily News Tuesday at Rutgers media day.
Jack declined to name the schools, but said, “There were a couple of wows in there that blew me away a little bit.”
A former Rice High School and South Kent (Conn.) standout, Jack was a highly- regarded recruit coming out of prep school. He took an unofficial visit to North Carolina, and ultimately picked Rutgers over West Virginia, Miami and Arkansas.
He said he briefly considered leaving Rutgers last spring after Rice was fired for hurling basketballs and homophobic slurs at his players, and athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned.
“They fired the AD and everybody was in limbo,” Jack said. “Then I heard [new coach] Eddie Jordan’s name come up and that’s when I decided to stay because he’s a league [NBA] guy.”
Jack said he was flattered that the other schools wanted his talents.
“When all of those schools called it just showed me that I had a lot to keep at the table at Rutgers, and I just had to get into the gym and accomplish the things that they said that they thought that I could do at Rutgers instead of anywhere else,” he said.
“It was about finishing something that I started.”
Not all of his teammates felt the same.
Mike Poole (Iona), Eli Carter (Florida) and Derrick Randall (Pittsburgh) were among those who transferred, and all received waivers to play immediately this season. Jerome Seagears briefly left for Auburn, but returned to Rutgers, later declaring that Auburn reminded him of “Mars.”
As for Mack, the 5-9 junior point guard out of Paterson and St. Anthony, he said schools recruited him to leave, too.
“Of course there was but I wasn’t interested,” Mack said. “Any university that came at me, I wasn’t interested. This is where I wanted to be.”
Mack said he stressed “loyalty” to his teammates and that he and Jack ultimately decided to stay together.
“From the beginning he told me if you stay I’m going to stay,” Mack said.
“For the players it was really dark at the time,” Mack said. “Sometimes we couldn’t leave the room because there was media outside or people on campus were yelling and screaming at us. They didn’t make us out to be the bad guy, they made us out to be jokes, like we were like the laugh of the town because of what happened and stuff like that.
“Sometimes we wouldn’t even leave the room for a day or so because we didn’t want to hear that stuff.”
Mack said the taunting subsided after about “a month and a half or two.”
“After a while there was nothing more to say about it,” he said.
Overall, Mack said the experience strengthened those who stayed.
“I think it brought us all together as a unit, even with the new players because they knew the things that we went through,” he said. “When they came they were here for us from Day One so I think as a unit the guys are great guys, always together, bonding on and off the court, so I think that’s great for us as a team.”
**Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan also said Tuesday that there was no word yet from the NCAA on the status of freshman forward Junior Etou. Click here for more.
Photo: Chicago Tribune