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Rutgers men's basketball secures late commitment, extends key assistant coaches

Head coach Steve Pikiell was able to secure the commitment of Antonio Chol while two of his assistants were given extensions as the Rutgers men's basketball team prepares for the upcoming season.  – Photo by Scarletknights.edu

The Rutgers men’s basketball team received a late addition to next season’s roster last week with the commitment of three-star forward Antonio Chol. In addition to this news, the Scarlet Knights also extended the contracts of associate head coach Karl Hobbs and assistant coach T.J. Thompson to keep head coach Steve Pikiell’s staff intact for next season.

Beginning with Chol, the Buffalo, New York, native was originally a member of the 2023 recruiting class before reclassifying to play this year. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward figures to be the last addition to the team ahead of the season.

Chol originally committed to Loyola Marymount last year but dropped his commitment when he enrolled at Minnesota Prep. Chol chose Rutgers over Akron, St. Bonaventure, Buffalo and New Mexico.

“(The Knights) were recruiting me the hardest. Nobody is showing this type of love,” Chol said. “The fit is there, me and (Pikiell) and (Thompson’s) relationship, I felt like that was where I had to be honest with myself. (My relationship with the coaches) is great. We call each other every day, catch up, talk about stuff other than basketball.”

Chol is an athletic big with perimeter skills that help him space the floor and create mismatches. At the Adidas All-American Camp last month, he was one of the players to stand out to scouts.

“(Chol) was active and energetic in breakdown drills, showed a combination of size and skill that is in high demand at the college level and even solid perimeter footwork to match,” said Adam Finkelstein, director of scouting for 247Sports. “What was surprising, at least based on what we saw today, was to learn that his recruitment has yet to exceed the mid-major level.”

Chol will work alongside junior center Clifford Omoruyi, junior forward Dean Reiber and freshman forward Antwone Woolfolk as the big men on next year’s team. He stated his decision for reclassifying was to get a head start on college.

As for the program’s coaching staff, Rutgers extended Thompson and Hobbs for next season. Hobbs has been with the program since Pikiell’s arrival in 2016, while Thompson joined in 2019.

Hobbs has 33 seasons of coaching experience, four of which came as head coach of George Washington with Pikiell as his assistant. Hobbs won two national championships as an assistant with UConn and has coached players like NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen and All-Stars Richard Hamilton and Caron Butler.

Meanwhile, Thompson was promoted to assistant coach before last season after two seasons as the Knights’ director of basketball administration. In his playing days, Thompson was a four-year starter at George Washington under Hobbs and Pikiell.

Thompson is also a co-founder of the D.C. Blue Devils AAU program in New Hampshire, where he served as the program director and head coach before coming to the Banks. Thompson was instrumental in the recruitment of former Rutgers star and New Hampshire native Geo Baker, who played under Thompson at the amateur level.

Hobbs is signed for two more seasons with the Knights, while Thompson was extended for just this upcoming season.

With the commitment of Chol and the extension of Hobbs and Thompson, Rutgers is primed to make a run at a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 

“We built a good relationship, and I think the fit is there,” Chol said. “I think everything molded into one great, big family.”


For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.


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