Yesterday, Ron Harper Jr., a 6’6” sharp shooting wing from Don Bosco Prep, visited Rutgers and picked up an offer from the coaching staff. He wasted little time and committed to the program on Friday night.
Harper Jr. addresses perhaps the biggest need for the program on the court, as he is an efficient shooter. Despite having an unorthodox stroke, he can light it up from behind the arc and has developed a nice mid-range game as well. At 6’6”, he will fit well playing the wing at Rutgers, a position of dire need. The only wing currently on the roster is rising sophomore Issa Thiam. Harper Jr. has major upside, as he just turned 17 in the spring, could continue to grow, and has room to improve in the area of strength and conditioning. The potential for him to develop physically under David Van Dyke is significant. Of course, the coaching staff must be thrilled to have a player with his skill set now in the fold.
Pat Lawless spoke with Harper Jr. about his commitment to Rutgers and had this to say about his decision:
"I felt like it was a great place to be because of all the change they have going on so I think they are heading in the right direction.”
"The key factors for me were a place where I felt welcomed and at home. I also like that it's close to home and Big Ten is a great conference to play in."
“They told me they want me to make an immediate impact. They like how I shoot the ball so they want to use me as a scorer when I get there."
He was a key player last season for Don Bosco Prep, who surprised the New Jersey 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. However, his recruitment didn’t pick up until recently, when Harper Jr. played very well at both The Weekend event and the Victor Oladipo Skills Academy during the second week of the July live period. He led all scorers in the Final at The Weekend in a loss to Hudson Catholic and Louis King, a top 15 recruit in the class of 2018, lighting up the action with 38 points.
Harper Jr. picked up his first high major offer from Nebraska soon after, before visiting Seton Hall earlier this week. However, they didn’t offer and Rutgers capitalized by landing Harper Jr. just one day after he visited the banks.
Ron Jr. 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.
Head coach Steve Pikiell continues to build serious momentum on the recruiting trail. What I love about this pickup is that Harper Jr. addresses a major need, but also is a recruit who has a lot of upside in the future. Every program needs to be able to evaluate under the radar players and develop them for the future. Look at Wisconsin, who has been doing it for years. Being able to land Harper Jr. so quickly after the biggest recruiting week in years for the program is a great sign as well.
Harper Jr. joins 3-star point guard Mac McClung, 4-star shooting guard Montez Mathis, and 4-star big man Mamadou Doucoure in the 2018 class. While Rutgers technically only has three players scheduled to graduate after this season, have no doubt there is a plan in place to have all four commits sign by the fall. There is still an open scholarship for next season as well, which could be rolled over, so more to come on how things will ultimately shake out.
For more on why the timing of this commitment is so important, click here.
Welcome to the banks, Ron Harper Jr!