For all the turmoil the Rutgers basketball program endured this past spring in the wake of former coach Mike Rice's firing, here's something surprising about the Scarlet Knights: They actually may field a competent starting lineup this upcoming season.
Rutgers announced Thursday morning that the NCAA has granted Pittsburgh transfer J.J. Moore a hardship waiver enabling him to play immediately. The high-scoring 6-foot-6 wing transferred to Rutgers in part to be closer to his daughter and his ailing grandfather.
The addition of Moore fills the hole new Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan had at small forward with a player who has shown a knack for scoring in bunches when afforded the necessary playing time.
Moore came off the bench at Pittsburgh last season behind freshman James Robinson and senior Lamar Patterson, but he still averaged 8.0 points in just 18.7 minutes per game as a junior. He is capable of knocking down jump shots from the perimeter or using his strength and quickness to finish at the rim.
Add Moore to a backcourt that already includes includes double-digit scorer Myles Mack and capable guard Jerome Seagears, and that's a perimeter trio with the scoring punch to propel Rutgers up the ladder of the American Athletic Conference. The frontcourt isn't bad either with fifth-year senior Wally Judge and promising junior Kadeem Jack providing scoring and rebounding and Iowa State transfer Kerwin Okoro coming off the bench.
That's not a group that will have league powers Louisville, Memphis and UConn quivering, but it's a strong enough lineup for Rutgers to realistically shoot to finish in the upper half of the conference. And what an accomplishment that would be given where the scandal-tainted Scarlet Knights program was just a few months ago.