Steve Pikiell’s latest recruiting trip apparently didn’t result in a commitment.
The Rutgers men’s basketball coach, as first reported by NJ Advance Media, flew to Toronto to meet with Eugene Omoruyi hours after his star player announced his intentions to transfer in a stunning Instagram post.
Shortly after meeting with Omoruyi, Pikiell offered a statement through his school’s spokesperson:
“Eugene Omoruyi informed me last night of his intent to enter the transfer portal,” Pikiell said. “He has the right as a student-athlete to pursue this option. Eugene has been a dedicated and valuable member of the program who exemplifies the qualities of a Scarlet Knight. Eugene’s contributions on the banks have been immeasurable. We support Eugene and wish him and his family nothing but the best.”
Absent from the statement is definitive word that Omoruyi is gone, but players rarely opt to remain with a program once they enter the NCAA’s transfer portal.
Omoruyi. Rutgers’ leading scorer and rebounder and a team captain last season, expressed a desire to leave the program just after midnight Wednesday morning — a shocking development that leaves the Scarlet Knights with two scholarships to fill and will have Pikiell undoubtedly searching for a post player to replace Omoruyi’s toughness and defensive ability.
The news hit hours after Rutgers officially scheduled a game to play St. Bonaventure in Toronto, a game Pikiell sought out in order to allow Omoruyi, a senior from Canada, to play in his home country in his final college season.
“I would first like to thank Rutgers University for the good memories that I had over the past 3 years,” Omoruyi wrote in his Instagram post. “I’d like to thank the coaching staff for allowing me to grow as a young man on and off the court. In addition, I would like to thank my teammates for accepting who I am and always having my back. We built great memories and relationships that will last forever.”
Omoruyi also thanked Pikiell, but ended up misspelling the Rutgers coach’s last name.
“Rutgers will always be a special place for me. But with that being said, I have decided to transfer, and have asked Coach Pikeil (sic) and the coaching staff for my release from the program,” he wrote.
Omoruyi played in 93 games in his three-year Rutgers career, averaging 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds while drawing widespread praise as the team’s best defender. He led Rutgers in both scoring (13.8 points-per-game) and rebounding (7.2 rebounds-per-game) while starting 26 of 28 games last season.
While Omoruyi’s future destination is not clear, the 6-foot-7 forward reportedly had scholarship offers from USC, Loyola-Marymount, Arkansas-Little Rock, Iona, Loyola-Illinois and Siena out of his suburban Toronto high school.
Omoruyi, on his ScarletKnights.com bio, mentions Kalif Young as his best friend from another college basketball program.
Young, a rising 6-9 senior forward at Providence, played with Omoruyi at Orangeville Prep in Ontario.
Young commented on Omoruyi’s Instagram message, posting: “Big things coming” with two watchful eyes and a prayer sign.
Keith Sargeant may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KSargeantNJ. Find NJ.com Rutgers Football on Facebook.