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May 17, 2013
Since his hiring at Rutgers last month, Eddie Jordan has been a busy man, but his main duty has been maintaining and repairing a roster crippled by transfers in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal.
Sometimes that meant putting things on hold, including grassroots directors energized by Jordan's return to the college game.
"We've had phone calls. People have been excited," Jordan said. "We've had AAU coaches call us and say 'Hey coach, I haven't heard from you, how come you haven't called me? I've got a freshman who is pretty darn good.' I said, 'That's great, but I have to fill a roster out now.'"
As the spring signing period for the class of 2013 closed out this week, Jordan was on his way to his ultimate goal. He inked four players-JUCO's Craig Brown and D'Von Campbell, Iowa State transfer Kerwin Okoro and 2013 forward Junior Etou-pushing the total of scholarship players to nine.
Walk-on Logan Kelley will also be on scholarship for next season, but even so, Jordan said he is still looking to add depth both in the backcourt and frontcourt. For the players he inked thus far, Jordan gave major credit to assistant coaches David Cox and Van Macon, holdovers from the Mike Rice era.
"They've been great. I couldn't have done it without them," Jordan said. "The kids that we signed, David and Van had kept massaging and kept the relationship with and said 'Look, I think if it's Eddie Jordan, it is going to be wonderful.' Those were the kids that we signed. There wasn't any kid up there that I said, 'Let's go get this kid.' They had it; we did it. They're wonderful and I'm glad that they're here with me."
Once his current roster is fully replenished, Jordan can turn his attention to the all-important classes of 2014 and 2015, where he and his staff intend to leave their imprint.
"Our class of '14 is going to be like our mark, hopefully," he said. "We have to show the state our best players can bring this program into the Big Ten the right way and be a part of it, get the exposure. That's what we want to get out of it.
"I told my assistants, if we had a [recruiting] radar from the RAC and that radar went out, when you hear that first beep, let's get him. It goes out again, that's the next beep, that's another good player. Let's get him. So let's build from there."
Jordan, a former DC Assault coach, returned to the AAU circuit during the April live period, taking in two major East Coast events and eyeing underclassmen targets.
"It was exciting watching games, evaluating games," he said. "For 20-something years, you allow people to do that: evaluating that player that you saw but you didn't really see. So that's fun, being part of getting the type of player you want that you like and actually signing him like we did with some of these guys."
On his own campus, Jordan's football counterpart Kyle Flood always speaks of recruiting "Rutgers men" who fit the characteristics he looks for in a player. At first, Jordan said he doesn't know if he's at the point of spitting out the genotype of his program's ideal recruit, but when he elaborated further, he did provide an outline for what he values on and off the court.
"We want to get talent first; I think that's what the top teams in the country do. They want talent. They want talent that's tough. They want talent that has experience. And when I say experience, in the NBA, you don't have to play six or seven or nine years to have experience. If you like playing, if you play a lot, that's experience. And you've got to have character. I think most coaches understand that.
"That's what I want; at least I understand that. I want talent first. Then I want guys who are tough, because soft talent doesn't win. And I want character talent, guys who are coachable. If they're coachable, they're leaders or they're followers. They're not finger-pointers. Maybe if people are saying that's our program's type of kid, that's what they meant."