Evan Turner. James Johnson. Jeff Teague. Chris Wright. Robbie Hummel. Talor Battle.
For what ESPN's recruiting rankings are worth, the aforementioned collegiate studs were placed lower than Manhattan-bound Rico Pickett in the ESPNU Top 100 recruits of 2007.
Rated a 96 and ranked as the 46th-best player in his class, Pickett accepted a scholarship from Alabama and started in 20 of 29 contests as a freshman before being suspended indefinitely due to classroom issues. Prior to the suspension, Pickett averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 assists per game.
The point guard left Alabama for Miami-Dade Junior College in Florida after his first year, and led the school to be one of the premier Juco teams in the nation. Wanting to return to Division I basketball, Pickett opened up his recruitment as a junior college transfer.
Signing with UConn was as good as a done deal, but a potential Jim Calhoun recruiting scandal made the front page of ESPN.com and made Pickett question his decision.
Now signed on to spend his final two seasons of college eligibility at Manhattan, Pickett is eager to "win the conference and get back to the NCAA tournament again."
Oh, how Manhattan fans would love that.
The impact that Pickett will have on this Jasper team is greater than that of any incoming MAAC recruit. Head coach Barry Rohrssen's point guard situation has been a constant dilemma over the last few years. Antoine Pearson was sloppy and ineffective at the one, but Patrick Bouli couldn't command the offense well either, leaving Manhattan without a clear-cut floor general.
Now, the Jaspers have a true point guard who also prefers an upbeat offensive style, which is something this team was tailor-made to play. The combination seems like an illusion to Manhattan fans.
At Miami-Dade Junior College, Pickett averaged 17.3 points and five assists per game. He's really quick with the ball and can weave through the defense to the hole. Claiming to have a pass-first mentality, Pickett likes to dish to his big man or kick out for a trey when he gets inside.
The junior is blessed with outstanding leaping ability, and he will indubitably electrify the crowd at Draddy Gymnasium this year.
If Pickett attends class and stays out of trouble in Riverdale, Manhattan could be looking at a memorable season.