Rutgers cleans up on Big Ten awards with all five starters receiving recognition.
The 2021-22 season started off slow for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, but they made a complete turnaround in Big Ten play. Steve Pikiell led his team to a fourth-place finish in the conference and now the individual awards are rolling in.
Here’s the full list of Big Ten honors for the Scarlet Knights:
- All-Big Ten Second Team — Ron Harper Jr.
- Defensive Player of the Year — Caleb McConnell
- All-Big Ten Third Team (Coaches) — Geo Baker
- All-Big Ten Honorable Mention — Geo Baker, Cliff Omoruyi, Paul Mulcahy, Caleb McConnell
Ron Harper Jr. (@__RHJR) has been saying it for a while.
— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) March 8, 2022
All-B1G honorable mention ? pic.twitter.com/Dh5hk4Dgrp
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 8, 2022
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s five starters receiving some kind of recognition from the Big Ten coaches and media.
Harper tested the NBA draft waters last summer, but eventually returned for another go in Piscataway. He’s been the catalyst of a few unforgettable moments in Rutgers basketball. His buzzer-beater against Purdue will live on forever. It was the turning point in this season.
Rutgers! Shocking the world. pic.twitter.com/eqpBoI34Wm
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) December 10, 2021
Although it’s clear that Harper is the alpha on offense and McConnell is the lynchpin on defense, this is one cohesive unit.
Baker is as experienced a college basketball as there is and he’s found his stroke as the season progressed. Mulcahy is a versatile offensive weapon. Meanwhile, Omoruyi is growing into his larger role after the departure of Myles Johnson.
What’s Next for Rutgers?
The Scarlet Knights can put their feet up for a little while. After finishing 12-8 in the competitive Big Ten, Rutgers earned a double-bye in the conference tournament.
The winner of Nebraska-Northwestern will play Iowa. The winner of that game will face Rutgers in the early afternoon on Friday.
What GIF best describes your excitement for Wednesday? ? pic.twitter.com/mXN31pi8Fo
— Big Ten Men's Basketball (@B1GMBBall) March 7, 2022
Three wins will earn Rutgers its first Big Ten Tournament Championship in school history. With five wins against ranked opponents already this year, anything is possible for the Scarlet Knights.
With that said, they don’t need to win it all in Indianapolis to make the NCAA Tournament. One win this weekend would likely be enough to solidify their spot in the Big Dance. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Rutgers as one of the last four teams in.
Rutgers’ resumé is going to hang in the balance on Selection Sunday. The non-conference record is an absolute mess with losses to DePaul, Lafayette, and UMass.