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Pikiell's Priorities: Rutgers men's basketball rounding out 2024 recruiting class, remains active in 2025, 2026

Head coach Steve Pikiell and his coaching staff are working hard for the recruitment classes of 2025 and 2026. – Photo by Christian Sanchez

Approximately three months ago, The Daily Targum checked in on where the Rutgers men's basketball team stood in its recruiting, still awaiting the decision of five-star guard Dylan Harper. Now, the "hometown hero" is committed to the Scarlet Knights, and head coach Steve Pikiell and his staff are looking ahead at other potential recruits.

Harper rounds out a historic 2024 Rutgers class that includes five-star forward Airious "Ace" Bailey, four-star center Lathan Sommerville, three-star forward Bryce Dortch and three-star forward Dylan Grant. With the 2024 class now likely completed, Pikiell's focus has shifted heavily to the 2025 and 2026 classes.

Who might these prospects be?

Class of 2025

With the high level of talent in the 2024 class, Pikiell is keeping his foot on the gas moving forward. The Knights have offered scholarships to 13 players in the class of 2025 thus far, according to 247Sports.

Darius Acuff Jr. is the most highly touted of the 13, as he is the No. 1 point guard in his class and a top-10 player in both 247Sports' ranking and the composite ranking, which takes other recruiting outlets' rankings into consideration.

Acuff Jr. has taken official visits to just two schools, Kentucky and Michigan, but reportedly plans to visit Rutgers soon. As it stands now, the Wildcats and the Wolverines seem to be the frontrunners.

Acuff Jr. has a strong relationship with Michigan head coach Juwan Howard. But with the Wolverines struggling this season, the program could soon become an afterthought to Acuff Jr., as Howard may be out of a job by the end of this season.

"I have had a connection with (assistant coach Marlon Williamson) since I was a baby. He is a great guy — he talks to me about the next level. And I love the head coach, (Pikiell), too. He's a great coach," Acuff Jr. said of the Knights and their coaching staff.

Another priority target for Rutgers is five-star forward Trey McKenney. McKenney hails from Michigan, and, like Acuff Jr. and Grant, the 2024 signee has developed a relationship with coach Williamson. McKenney has already been on campus for an official visit and lists the Knights as a program he is hearing from most often.

The Targum has highlighted McKenney dating back to August 2023, and he remains a top priority for Pikiell.

Four-star forward Brandon Stores is someone to keep a keen eye on. Stores, who is from the Bronx, New York, recently included Rutgers in his final three schools alongside Xavier and Georgia Tech. With Pikiell's recent recruiting success, the Knights are major players in the tight race for Stores.

Rutgers remains on good terms with four-star guard Nigel James, as he said the Knights are a front-runner in his recruitment.

Four-star forward Jaylen Harrell is a fresh face in Pikiell's sights, as he took an official visit to Piscataway in the last two weeks. Providence is one of the key competitors for Harrell's recruitment.

Five-star guard Darius Adams, younger brother of current Rutgers women's basketball junior guard and forward Destiny Adams, is a player that the Knights have been in the mix for as well. Darius Adams listed the five schools that he hears from the most, though, and Rutgers was not one of them.

Pikiell's development of Harper and Bailey in what will likely be their only season on the Banks next year could be crucial in the recruitment of some of these high-profile players. The pair going one-and-done at Rutgers before becoming high NBA draft picks would lay the framework for other top recruits, as they would hope to follow in Harper and Bailey's footsteps.

Class of 2026

Pikiell and his staff have offered scholarships to more 2026 players as of late.

Four-star guard Qayden Samuels received an offer on February 1, and four-star guard Jayden Hodge also received one on January 29.

Four-star guard Deron Rippey Jr. is another name that has recently come up, as he is reportedly set to take an unofficial visit to Piscataway when the Knights host Michigan on February 29.

With a monumental 2024 class on the way, Pikiell is not selling himself or his program short as he continues shooting for the stars with his recruitment of the 2025 and 2026 classes.

For more updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow @TargumSports on X.

To view more of Camden Markel's work, follow @CamdenMarkel on X.

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