Update 7:30 p.m. Friday: Harper Jr committed to Rutgers!
After securing commitments from two of their top 2018 targets and being in the final six schools that 4-star combo guard Jalen Carey is considering, the narrative is truly changing for the program on the recruiting trail. However, the Rutgers men’s basketball staff continues to work in finding the best fits for the program, regardless of rankings. The staff have now offered an under the radar, local prospect, who stood out during the July live period.
Rutgers has offered 2018 Ring City wing Ron Harper Jr, one of the top shooters in the rising senior class@RichieSRivals— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) August 10, 2017
Ron Harper Jr. took an unofficial visit to Rutgers on Thursday and received an offer while on campus. He was a key player last season for Don Bosco Prep, who surprised the local high school basketball scene by making it all the way to the Tournament of Champions Final after winning their first non-public A state title in 47 years. They ultimately lost in the TOC Final to prep powerhouse, the Patrick School. Harper Jr. had a strong performance in that championship game, scoring 13 points and adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. However, it wasn’t until his play during the last couple of weeks of the July live period that his recruitment really took off.
He played very well at both The Weekend event and the Victor Oladipo Skills Academy. Made Hoops named Harper Jr. as a standout performer at The Weekend, saying this about the 6’6” wing:
“Don Bosco Prep shooting guard Ron Harper Jr. had a breakout performance at The Weekend. The class of 2018 wing shot the ball and finished around the rim well. He is flowing a bit under the radar, but shouldn’t be for much longer. Nebraska recently offered Harper and they won’t be the last with how he has been playing lately.”
I wrote about Rutgers attending that event during week two action of the live period and obviously, Harper Jr. caught their attention. His game has blossomed this summer and he is becoming a consistent shooter from deep.
Ron Harper Jr. has been a standout in the first game set of session two. Demonstrating an efficient 3pt shot from the catch #VOSA2K17— Adam Ayalew (@AyalewAdam) July 21, 2017
Don Bosco Prep rising Sr. Ron Harper averaged 28 points in 3 games, including 38 in finals— Garden State Hoops (@Gardenstate5) July 24, 2017
Harper Jr. exploded for 38 points in the Final of The Weekend. Although Don Bosco lost to 5-star recruit Louis King and Hudson Catholic, it was a breakthrough performance for him. As you know, Rutgers needs shooters in a big way and Harper Jr. could be a great addition to help fill that void. What I like about him is that he is still developing his game and has the potential to really improve over time. He has a tremendous family pedigree, as his father, Ron Harper Sr., had a successful 15 year career in the NBA, winning five titles combined with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. His mother had a successful college basketball career at the University of New Orleans.
As for Harper Jr., he is a project in that he needs to develop physically and get into better shape to succeed at the next level. He is the type of prospect that Rutgers strength and conditioning coach David Van Dyke could do wonders for. Harper Jr. is starting to come into his own on the court and becoming a complete player is the next step. He is a younger member of the class of 2018, as he turned 17 years old in April (correction: I originally stated Harper Jr. was 16 years old based on an article I read from March). There is plenty of room for his overall development and he has major upside.
He has some international playing experience already as well, as he played for the Fil-Am Sports USA Team in the Philippines this past Spring. His mother is Filipino.
Harper Jr. didn’t receive his first high major offer until Nebraska did so in July. His other offers include Miami (OH), his father’s alma mater, as well as FDU, Georgia State, UIC, Radford and Howard, according to Verbal Commits. I wouldn’t read too much into his offer list, but rather, focus on the fact that two Big Ten programs are now pursuing him in just the last month. Seton Hall has been said to have taken interest in him as well. He is just another example of a late bloomer that has seen his recruitment take off after a strong summer. The Rutgers staff have done a great job of identifying under the radar talent before most other high major programs. Here are some recent highlights of Harper Jr. from the July live period.
Overall, Rutgers is in great shape with the class of 2018. With 4-star commits Montez Mathis and Mamadou Doucoure, as well as 3-star and point guard of the future, Mac McClung, already in the fold, the coaching staff has generated a ton of momentum on the recruiting trail with future classes as well. I covered class of 2019 4-star forward Eric Dixon’s visit to the program last week, his second this summer. Another 2019 top prospect, Aundre Hyatt, rescheduled his planned visit from this week to next week. In addition, expect a big visitor weekend around the season opening game for Rutgers Football against Washington on September 1st. 3-star big man from the class of 2018, Warren Washington, is already confirmed.
In terms of available scholarships, there is still no official word on how the staff will fill the last open spot for this coming season. It’s likely we will find out soon who will be added, with the fall semester starting in less than a month. Remember, last year grad transfer CJ Gettys wasn’t added until August, as well as rising sophomore Eugene Omoruyi. As for the class of 2018, the staff absolutely must continue to recruit, as there certainly could be more scholarships opening up in the future. One trait under the leadership of head coach Steve Pikiell is the staff being well organized and strategic in their approach, working to have multiple options with every class they are recruiting for. It has already paid off in a big way this summer and has given legitimacy to believing better days really are ahead for the program.