- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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This story has been corrected. Read below
Three-star senior prospect Junior Etou (Arlington, Va./Bishop O'Connell) pledged to Rutgers on Wednesday during an official visit, becoming the Scarlet Knights' first high school commit after the dismissal of Mike Rice.
Etou, a 6-foot-7 power forward, chose to play for new coach Eddie Jordan, passing on offers from Xavier, Miami, Temple, Washington and Clemson.
Etou is a physical presence with a developing jumper, and he plays the game with a passion that will take him to even greater heights at the collegiate level. That passion and commitment will be welcomed at Rutgers, a program in the midst of a transformation period under Jordan after the ugly scandal in which Rice was caught on video kicking, hitting and taunting players.
Rice was fired April 3 and South Kent (Conn.) point guard Shane Rector decommitted during the tumultuous period.
Jordan previously coached Etou's AAU team last summer in between jobs with the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers.
"(He) really likes Coach Jordan because if you don't play defense and rebound, you don't play, and it doesn't matter who you are," said Joe Wootten, Etou's high school coach.
Etou averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots a game for O'Connell.
In Etou, Rutgers is getting a physical post player. What makes Etou special is his tough-nosed rebounding, ability to block shots and excellent timing. Wootten describes Etou as a player who can "go and get it off the glass."
He doesn't get enough credit for his offense, but Etou is more than capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers and has the ability to shoot the 3.
Etou will bring plenty of offensive versatility to Rutgers' offense. At O'Connell, Etou played in a high-low offensive set in which he seals his man in the low post by making and maintaining contact to receive the post feed. From the high post, he will make the quick entry pass or hit the jumper. He owns a jump hook and drop-step inside the lane, where he is most comfortable. He can also be a pick-and-pop guy in ball-screen action for Rutgers.
"It's too early to compare him, but in some ways he reminds me of Udonis Haslem," said Steve Turner, a coach at O'Connell rival Gonzaga High in Washington D.C. "He is physically tough. ... Never stops rebounding throughout the game."
Etou is a native of the Republic of Congo. FIBA, basketball's international governing body, lists Etou's year of birth as 1992. But according to a Washington Post report, Etou's provided paperwork and a passport that cites his birthday as 1994. He was cleared to play by O'Connell's administration and the school's athletic league, the report said.
A May 1 ESPN.com story about Junior Etou going to Rutgers incorrectly attributed information about Etou's paperwork and passport that says he was born in 1994. That information was from the Washington Post, which cited Bishop O'Connell coach Joe Wooten as the source of its information. In addition, Etou is from the Republic of Congo.
hree-star senior prospect Junior Etou (Arlington, Va./Bishop O'Connell) pledged to Rutgers on Wednesday during an official visit, becoming the Scarlet Knights' first high school commit after the dismissal of Mike Rice.