Mike Rosario watched Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers battle it out in the AAU Super Showcase championship game from Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night.
Although the 6-foot-4 Beal has verbally committed to join Rosario at Florida in 2011, the 6-4 Rivers is considering Duke, Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky. Many expect him to land at Duke.
With Florida coach Billy Donovan among those watching courtside, Rivers scored a game-high 24 points as his Each 1 Teach 1 team beat Beal's St. Louis Eagles, 78-60, for the title.
"I watched them go to head-to-head," Rosario said by phone from the Florida campus. "It was a great matchup. Those guys been playing well. I love Brad Beal's game. He has a smooth game like Ray Allen.
"I love the fact that Austin Rivers can shoot the ball, put it on the floor. Both of those guys are capable of helping us win a conference championship. I hope they both come here so we can turn this program into a special program."
Three months ago, the 6-2 Rosario decided to leave Rutgers for Florida after two frustrating seasons.
Rosario played in 32 games during the 2009-10 season and averaged 16.7 points and 3.9 rebounds. As a freshman in 2008-09, he played in 32 games (30 starts) and averaged 16.2 points and 3.5 boards. Yet Rutgers finished near the bottom of the 16-team Big East each season.
Although the Gators won back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006 and '07, the former St. Anthony star said the hardest thing has been adjusting to Florida's brutal summer heat.
"I'm not used to this type of heat, man," Rosario said. "You walk out the dorm room, it's just a sauna. There's no wind blowing, no nothing. You just stay sweating after you walk out the dorm like you got through with a workout."
Rosario will be able to practice this season but must sit out next year per NCAA regulations. In the meantime, he's taking classes, working out and adjusting to the new lifestyle away from home.
"The hardest part is just getting used to the atmosphere and the new beginning and just getting the feel of how everything works down here and what not to do," he said. "You have to pick and choose who your friends are ."
Rosario said he's added about eight pounds and now weighs 180.
"I needed to gain weight," he said.
Because college coaches spend most of July on the road recruiting, Donovan hasn't gotten a chance to spend much time this summer with Rosario and his other players. Men's basketball teams cannot begin practicing until October, anyway.
"I feel bad right now I'm on the road so much. I'd like to get back with those guys a little bit," he said at the Peach Jam.
Still, Donovan is looking forward to having Rosario bring some experience to the mix in 2011.
"We had a lack of depth in our backcourt, and he'll get a chance to sit out a year," Donovan said. "Obviously, he was a proven scorer in the Big East. I'm hopeful that he can make our two backcourt players -- Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton -- better players."
When Rosario becomes eligible, Walker, out of Christ the King High School in Queens, will be a senior and Boynton will be a junior.
In April, Rosario announced his plans to transfer after two seasons. One day after his announcement, Rutgers parted ways with former coach Fred Hill, who recruited Rosario out of St. Anthony as the program's first-ever McDonald's All-American.
"Mike's been a great kid," Donovan said. "I think anytime you leave a place, especially where it's your home there's always going to be a transition. He's a Jersey kid. I know he loved Rutgers and his experience there."
Both St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley and Donovan think a change of scenery will do him good.
"You can't always blame coaches for players not developing," Hurley said in April. "The older you get, there's more personal responsibility."
Asked if Rosario needed to do more on his own end, Hurley said, "Absolutely. I'm not happy because I know how hard [former Rutgers assistant] Darren Savino worked in their individual work and I know Darren wasn't happy with his effort all the time this year.
"If you say you want to do something, saying it and doing it, you gotta work hard. And his work habits were not as good this year."
Donovan understands Hurley's criticisms.
"I think Coach Hurley loves Mike," Donovan said. "They had a great relationship. I think with everything that went on there, it was probably time for a change for him. And with the change, I think coach wants to see Mike pushed in a way that he's gotta get better.
"I think he'd like to see Mike take responsibility for Mike."