Rutgers hoops lands highly recruited center Cliff Omoruyi

TOM CANAVAN (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press
Roselle Catholic's Cliff Omoruyi #11 is seen against Norcross during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Roselle Catholic's Cliff Omoruyi #11 is seen against Norcross during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Steve Pikiell and Rutgers took other step toward becoming a major basketball threat in the Big Ten Conference, getting a commitment from highly regarded center Cliff Omoruyi.

Omoruyi confirmed his choice Sunday in a telephone call with The Associated Press, adding Auburn and Arizona State also were under consideration. Several outlets reported the news earlier in the day.

Rutgers could not comment. Omoruyi is the first New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year to commit to Rutgers. He is probably the Scarlet Knights' biggest in-state recruit since Mike Rosario of St. Anthony's in 2007.

Rutgers (20-11) was on the verge of its first NCAA Tournament berth in 29 years when the season was ended by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this month.

Rutgers' 20-win regular season was its first in 37 years, and the first 20-win season overall since 2003-04. Rutgers' 11 conference wins was its most in 29 years while the winning record in the league also was the first in the same period. The winning season was Rutgers' first since 2005-06 (19-14), the previous time it made a postseason tournament (NIT).

The athletic 6-foot-10 Omoruyi is considered a top-50 high school prospect. He is a dynamic rebounder and shot blocker who has work to do on the offensive end.

He would join a team that has most of its top players returning, led by Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr. and Montez Mathis.

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