Manhattan College signed Barry Rohrssen four years ago because of his New York City ties. As an assistant at Pittsburgh, Rohrssen lured some of the best players from the Big Apple to play for his Panthers. The Jaspers hoped he would be able to keep those top players in the city, specifically at Manhattan College.
For three years, Rohrssen was unsuccessful. Players like Darryl Crawford and Antoine Pearson have been solid, but they are not of the caliber that Rohrssen was supposed to bring in. When Rohrssen actually signed potential MAAC stars, they transferred.
Part of the problem was that he relied too heavily on his New York connections. He barely recruited out of state; the one player he signed from out of New York was Chris Smith, who transferred to Louisville this spring. When the big names from New York didn't want to play at Manhattan, Rohrssen had nowhere to lean back on.
It appears that Rohrssen finally learned his lesson. The fourth-year coach currently has three incoming freshmen signed to National Letters of Intent; two of them are from out of state.
Rohrssen's first commitment of the offseason was junior college transfer Rico Pickett. Ranked forty-sixth in his recruiting class of 2007, Pickett originally signed with Alabama and started in twenty games as a freshman. However, he and the school had problems, prompting him to transfer to Miami-Dade Community College. At Miami-Dade, Pickett averaged 17.3 points per game and almost five assists, leading his team to a No. 3 national ranking among junior colleges.
After his sophomore season at the junior college, Pickett decided he wanted to return to Division I ball. It appeared that Pickett would sign with UConn, but he changed his mind when he learned that the school could face recruiting restrictions after violating some rules. Florida was supposed to be the point guard's next option, but he was unsure about how much playing time he would receive in Gainesville.
And then there was Rohrssen, who had continued to pursue the four-star recruit. Manhattan's coach guaranteed Pickett playing time from day one until his graduation, and also presented his recruit with the opportunity to play on the big stage in the Big Apple. Pickett signed with the Jaspers on April 24 and claimed that the school's location played a huge role in his decision.
Pickett is a highly rated, experienced point guard who will run the Jaspers' offense for the next two years.
A little less than a month later, George Beamon inked his signature. Beamon is the lone New Yorker in the recruiting class and he certainly can play. A 6'5" small forward, Beamon averaged 34 points per game as a senior at Roslyn High School on Long Island. He scored over 40 points on eight separate occasions and even surpassed 50 points twice.
Beamon can play; he was recruited by Big East schools who eventually dropped out because of his weaknesses in the classroom. Rohrssen was lucky that he was the only coach willing to gamble with Beamon because the Jaspers desperately need a scoring touch to replace the losses of Devon Austin, Herve Banogle, and Chris Smith.
If Beamon is the scorer that his stats imply he is, he will receive lots of minutes from day one.
For the first time since Luis Flores led the twelfth-seeded Jaspers past Florida in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, Manhattan made the front page of ESPN.com.
No, Rohrssen did not violate any recruiting regulations.
His willingness to take a chance on the one-handed Kevin Laue when nobody else would was promoted by all the media. The truth is, though, that Laue can play. He may lack half of his left arm, but he hasn't let that hold him back from anything, save playing guitar and climbing monkey bars.
Manhattan has not had a strong defensive center in years, but now they have Laue, who is 6'10" and loves to send opponents' shots into the stands. He averaged 10 points and five rebounds at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia last season. Although scoring is not his forte, he still has a smooth mid-range stroke. Hopefully the Jaspers will be able to rely on Pickett, Crawford, Beamon, and the other returning players for points.
People say that Laue could be an NBA player if he had two hands, but he is still a special player with one. ESPN rated him 82.
Pickett is by far the best get in this class, but, as a whole, the class is atop the MAAC. The Jaspers still have one scholarship to fill.
If Rohrssen continues to recruit like this, Manhattan could soon return to the top of the MAAC and New York basketball.