In March of 2022, when assessing the foundational Rutgers basketball careers of Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr. and Caleb McConnell, head coach Steve Pikiell called them “dinosaurs” for spending their entire college careers with the Scarlet Knights.
That prescient point is reinforced by the program’s latest late-spring defection. Senior Paul Mulcahy has entered the transfer portal, looking to play his fifth year of eligibility elsewhere after four years as an integral part of Rutgers’ rise from the ashes. The Bayonne native was part of four winning seasons, played in three NCAA Tournament games and was on pace to surpass Eddie Jordan as the program’s career assist leader. This past winter the 6-foot-6 point guard averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from 3-point range. Over four years his assist-to-turnover ratio sat well north of 2-to-1; his effort and unselfishness were exemplary.
The move is at once unsurprising and shocking.
It’s unsurprising because Mulcahy was demonstrably unhappy as the 2022-23 wore on – unhappy with his painful shoulder injury and the heat he took from some fans as he struggled during Rutgers’ late-season slide, not to mention the losses themselves (which he took more personally than your average college player).
On the other side, it’s shocking because Mulcahy has a strong bond with Pikiell and now does the coach no favors by entering the portal three months into the offseason, on June 9, as programs around the country are gearing up to return to campus for summer workouts.
“Pike’s the best coach in the country; he’s an incredible person.” Mulcahy said in March, after Rutgers’ season-ending loss to Hofstra in the NIT. “You play a year for him or however long, he’s got you for life. He believed in me when a lot of others didn’t. He’s taken a lot of heat because of me. He does it for everybody. He believes in all of us. He deserves all the things he worked for. He’s going to get us to higher places. I’m so thankful that I got to play for him. There’s a lot going on in college basketball, but he’s the best coach. I’m so grateful for him.”
Mulcahy’s portal entry comes three weeks later than that of his former backcourt-mate Cam Spencer, whose May 19 filing blindsided Pikiell (Spencer committed to UConn Tuesday). The situations differ somewhat in that Pikiell had an inkling as last season closed that Mulcahy might not be back; he did bring in another accomplished point guard in UMass transfer Noah Fernandes after Mulcahy entered the NBA Draft process.
The prevailing thought within the program was that, with a Rutgers degree already in hand, Mulcahy could opt to move on from college basketball altogether. The idea that he might wear another college’s uniform next season seemed remote, and by the time Mulcahy withdrew from the draft May 31, the Scarlet Knights’ core rotation seemed to be set for 2023-24, with Fernandes, Mulcahy, and rising…
Read More: Paul Mulcahy enters transfer portal 2023-06-09 13:16:41