By : Steve Tichenor
For the Rutgers faithful concerned about Nigel Johnson’s decision to transfer, take a breath. While RU’s second leading scorer this past season will be missed, it is not a severe blow to the program.
Let’s face it. Even with Johnson, Rutgers was a bad offensive team. Without Johnson, they will perhaps be a slightly worse offensive team, that’s it.
While there will be continued improvement next year under Steve Pikiell, as I pointed out in a recent article on this site, Rutgers is still a long shot from any tournament bid next season. Johnson could have been the difference for one or two games for RU if he stayed for his senior year, but it’s not like Rutgers is challenging to win the Big 10 conference. So given where the program is, watching Johnson walk, though painful, will not doom next season. The Scarlet Knights are still a few seasons away from making any noise.
What should be more of a concern to Rutgers fans is Corey Sanders preoccupation with the NBA. He, once again, will test NBA team’s interest and enter the draft without signing with an agent. He’s clearly Rutgers best player, but I can’t imagine any NBA team showing interest in his game now. He’s a terrific athlete with a game that needs plenty of work, both physically and mentally. If he puts that work in, increases his basketball IQ and matures as an athlete, maybe he’ll have an outside shot at the NBA after a full career at Rutgers. For now, It would be best for Sanders and his team if he focused solely on the college game.
The good news is, the Johnson move does free up a scholarship for Coach Pikiell. So perhaps the coaching staff can find a scorer (please!) to add to the roster. If incoming recruit Geo Baker can have an immediate impact at point guard and Sanders stays put, perhaps Rutgers can even surprise a few teams next season.
So let’s wish Nigel Johnson well. He had some great moments for Rutgers, especially his 21 point performance against Ohio State in Rutgers’ first ever Big 10 tournament win. But in reality, with him or without him, RU will still be toward the bottom of the Big 10 next season. Better days will come.