UNI Signs 2023 Recruits, One of Coach Jacobson’s Best Classes
Today, November 9 is National Signing Day for the 2023 basketball class across the country.
We've known who Coach Ben Jacobson and the UNI basketball squad would be adding next season for quite a while, but now those verbal commitments have become official with RJ Taylor, Kyle Pock, and Wes Rubin each signing their letters of intent.
Each will bring a different skill set to Cedar Falls, but overall, this may be the best recruiting class the Panthers have seen in a long time. Sure, adding four-star AJ Green was huge in 2018, but as a collective unit, this one stands out.
Taylor was the first commit of the 2023 class, making his decision in April.
Over his junior season, the 5'11 guard averaged 17.1 points per game and 4 assists per game en route to the Michigan state championship game in Division 1 (the classification for the state's largest schools). He set a state championship game record as well, shooting 7-10 from three and scoring 28 of the Bobcats' 58 points. He's the reigning Prep Hoops Class of 2023 and D Zone Michigan Player of the Year and has career averages of 14.6 points, 4.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game.
Though his commitment came early, Taylor emphasized to me in an interview that he knew he wanted to be a Panther:
Doing research on what they've done, it was very impressive -- even winning the (Missouri Valley Conference championship) this year. ... Obviously, I committed a little earlier than most do in 2023, but I felt like I really knew where I wanted to go. I didn't want to wait on it. ... It was in my heart that I wanted to come to UNI.
Coach Jacobson told UNI Athletics that Taylor will be a nice addition to the Panther roster:
RJ is a hoops junkie, a winner, and has a big-time motor. He plays with pace, has great timing, and a unique ability to get the guys around him to play at a high level. We want to play with great pace, and RJ will help us do that. He brings instant positive energy to all situations on and off the court. We are very fortunate to add RJ to the family!
UNI entered the Pock sweepstakes late in the game, offering the 6'6 forward in July this summer. The Bolivar, Missouri native made the trip to Cedar Falls for his official visit in September, and quickly made his decision three weeks later, committing to play for UNI.
The three-star recruit is coming off a season for the Liberators where he averaged 19.9 points per game with 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 51.1% from the field. He's currently the third-highest scorer in Bolivar history with 1,762 points and has amassed over 700 rebounds in his career.
He has also played with the MoKan Elite AAU team, which won the 2022 Peach Jam. He's the second-highest-rated recruit in Missouri. Before deciding on UNI, Pock had received offers from Indiana State, Missouri State, UIC, Princeton, Southeast Missouri, South Dakota State, Lipscomb, Saint Louis, and Oral Roberts. The coaching staff at Wisconsin had also shown interest according to 247Sports.
Coach Jake said this of Pock:
Kyle does so many things on the basketball court that impact winning. He has the size and skill to play a couple different spots for us. We also feel that Kyle is one of the best perimeter shooters in the class. He just makes big plays and big shots. Kyle really works at it and brings with him an enthusiasm for hoops and his teammates that will have a real impact on our program. We are thrilled that Kyle is a Panther!
Last, but certainly not least, comes Rubin. Initially committed to Loyola-Chicago with his brother Miles, Wes decided to decommit in September before announcing his decision to flip to UNI in late October.
Prior to his initial commitment, Rubin had received scholarship offers from the likes of Western Illinois, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Akron, Pacific, Illinois State, DePaul, and Southern Illinois. After his decommitment is when UNI came in with an offer. Western Michigan also offered a scholarship to Rubin after he decommited.
The 6'8, versatile forward from Chicago put up 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game last season for basketball powerhouse Simeon. He's also teammates with Taylor on the Chicago MeanStreets EYBL team.
Jake said this of Rubin:
Wes is a do-it-all forward. He handles it, passes it, scores it inside and out. He also has a real ability to help his teammates play better. We feel like Wes will be a guy we can run our offense through given his size, skill, and versatility. He gives us a player up front that will allow us to play with great pace. We have loved watching and getting to know Wes -- we can't wait to get him here!
We broke down what these three will bring to UNI on a recent episode of Cornstalks and Sports Talk. You can listen on YouTube below, on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.