In a video on social media on Wednesday night, Ron Harper Jr. officially announced his decision to return to college basketball and suit up for another season in Piscataway.
Back in April, Harper Jr. announced that he would enter his name into the 2021 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility by not signing with an agent. Harper Jr. had until midnight tonight to pull his name out of the Draft in order to preserve his college eligibility and his opportunity to return to Rutgers.
While he did not receive an invite to the NBA Draft or G League combines, Harper Jr.’s decision to enter his name into the draft should be seen as the right move on many levels for the 6-foot-6 small forward. After a successful junior season where he was named third-team all conference and was the leading scorer on a Round of 32 NCAA Tournament team, Harper Jr. began appearing in some mock drafts as a 2nd round pick. With the advantage of retaining his college eligibility throughout the process, it was smart of him to feel out the draft process and to see how he compared to other NBA prospects. This experience will only help him in the future as he looks to eventually make the jump to the professional level in the future.
Harper Jr. led RU in scoring at 14.9 points per game and was second in rebounding with 5.9 boards per contest. He was named one of five players in the nation named as finalists for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award.
For Steve Pikiell and Rutgers, it is great news to have Harper Jr. back on the roster for another season. Having a player who has proven himself to be one of the best scorers in the Big Ten and to have the ability to score 20-30 points on any given night will only help next season’s team on their mission to return to the NCAA Tournament.
With that said, just like every other program in the country, the Scarlet Knights will have a different roster than the one that went dancing last season. Of the eight players from last season’s rotation, Jacob Young, Myles Johnson and Montez Mathis have departed the program. However, Rutgers has Geo Baker back as well and has added LSU transfer Aundre Hyatt along with a healthy amount of rising talent already in the program, including names such as Jaden Jones, Oskar Palmquist and Mawot Mag. These are all players that should have an opportunity to see the floor and make an impact this winter.
There is plenty of talent for Steve Pikiell and his staff to work with, and that pool of talent has only grown for next season with the return of a program cornerstone in Harper Jr.