Rutgers commit Ron Harper Jr., who officially signed last fall, concluded his high school career over the weekend with a monster performance after leading Don Bosco Prep to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions Final for the second consecutive year. Despite a career high effort of 33 points, by Harper Jr., the Ironmen fell to Roselle Catholic, the top seeded team that is loaded with Division I talent, by the score of 61-54. Even so, Harper Jr. demonstrated his potential on the biggest stage for New Jersey high school basketball and accomplished a career mark by surpassing the 1,000 point total for his scholastic career.
In the last game of his Don Bosco Prep career, Ron Harper Jr. scored 33 points surpassing the 1,000 career point mark. Congrats on a historical high school career and the amazing accomplishment‼️@ron_harper32— DBP Basketball (@DBFastBreakClub) March 18, 2018
Greg Mattura of northjersey.com covered the game and highlighted two aspects of Harper Jr.’s performance that should excite Rutgers men’s basketball fans everywhere: He made 14 of 15 free throw attempts and his last two field goal attempts were made three-pointers, finishing 8 of 14 from the floor. Aside from his accuracy, you have to love his ability to get to the foul line as well, something Rutgers needs more players that are capable of doing that. Harper Jr. added 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block to go along with his game high 33 points. You can watch the entire championship game and Harper Jr. in action here:
Harper Jr. showed appreciation for the support he and his teammates received during the past two seasons in a classy way from his twitter account last Sunday:
Steve Politi of NJ Advance Media spoke to the incoming Scarlet Knight’s father, Ron Sr. and five-time NBA champion, about the enormous potential his son has in this recent article. It includes room to grow both in his game and with his physical size, who is currently listed at 6’6”:
“By the time they start college, he’s going to be 6-8, 6-9. He’s still growing,” his father said. “The kid is wearing a size 18 shoe. He’s got a 7-1 wing span. I told him, he’s the next Kevin Durant type, he’s going to be 6-9 and he’s going to be able to do everything. He doesn’t have an idea of what coming to college and getting stronger is going to do to his game.”
Amen to that. While Harper Jr. saw a late surge in his recruitment last summer, the only other high major offer he had was from Nebraska. However, his father was a late bloomer, having a standout career at Miami (OH) before having a 16 year career in the NBA. It appears junior has a similar shooting ability of his father and with time to develop, could emerge as a steal on the recruiting trail for head coach Steve Pikiell and Rutgers. The roster desperately needs multiple shooters and Harper Jr. is looking like a player that can help address the biggest need for Pikiell moving forward.
Harper Jr. is part of a promising 2018 recruiting class for Rutgers, which includes 4-star guard Montez Mathis and JUCO standout Shaq Carter. In addition, with the potential for another scholarship to become available this cycle if a player on the current roster leaves early, Rutgers has been named one of three finalist’s in the recruitment of 3-star point guard Tai Strickland. He is choosing between Wisconsin, Rutgers and Minnesota. Strickland is set to visit Piscataway this weekend and is expected to make a decision in mid-April. His addition would only strengthen the current class and give Pikiell the gritty, true point guard that he’s been searching for since his arrival almost two year ago.
With a strong finish to the season after a surprising run to the Big Ten Quarterfinals, Pikiell has plenty of momentum to work with on the recruiting trail this offseason. However, this summer is equally important from a development standpoint for both the current players and newcomers. While it’s too early to know how much of a impact Ron Harper Jr. will make on the court next season, it’s clear he is just scratching the surface of his potential. If he continues to grow and embraces the strength and conditioning program under the tutelage of David Van Dyke, he could become a key player in the continued rebuild of Rutgers basketball. Harper Jr. proved in his senior season at Don Bosco that he is becoming a lethal shooter and that ability alone should have Rutgers fans excited for his arrival on the banks in the coming months.
Watch Harper Jr. talk about the TOC Final loss and his thoughts on his future career at Rutgers.