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Rutgers MBB: Good News Incoming?

Update: Big Cliff is coming back

Rutgers v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday weekend. The low humidity and sunny skies out on Long Island has filled me with optimism, unlike the last couple of weeks for men’s basketball.

First, former 4-star commit Baye Ndongo followed former Rutgers assistant coach Karl Hobbs to Georgia Tech, then Cam Spencer unexpectedly entered the transfer portal, followed by four-star guard Dellquan Warren decommitting. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Piling on, Knights of the Raritan NIL collective president Jon Newman stated that fundraising is falling far short of the estimated 10 million needed annually to remain competitive in the basketball and football national landscape, A recent visit to one of the Rutgers basketball Facebook groups I follow (I know not why I continue to torture myself) had some longtime fans calling for the program to be shut down and stating they are done watching this team. I’ve always joked that the U in Rutgers stands for members of our “Unhinged” fanbase.

I’m not going to rehash my belief that Cam leaving doesn’t hurt the team as much as everyone thinks, especially looking at the stretch run with a player that ultimately scored 13 points a game for 456th in the nation. Instead, I’m focusing on good energy and going out on that proverbial limb predicting 5-star shooting guard Dylan Harper will commit to Rutgers in the very near future.

With the commitment of top ten 5-star small forward Ace Bailey back in mid January, the likelihood of Dylan Harper also committing increased significantly. The two players talk daily and Bailey has become one of Dylan’s most outspoken recruiters. Bailey flat out stated the Rutgers 2024 squad has the chance to be the latest incantation of Michigan’s storied Fab 5.

The 2024 roster could potentially include:

  • 5 star small forward Ace Bailey (class of 2024)
  • 5 star shooting guard Dylan Harper (class of 2024)
  • 4 star big man Lathan Sommerville (class of 2024)
  • 5 star forward Gavin Griffiths (class of 2023)
  • 3 star point guard Jamichael Davis (class of 2023)
  • 3 star point guard Derek Simpson (class of 2022)

Now I must admit that none of the facts above eased my worry that Dylan could wind up choosing Duke. I’ve eliminated Kansas because Harper is likely to play one year in college along with Bailey and the Jayhawks like continuity. I don’t even factor in Indiana anymore, watching the public Twitter feud between older brother Ron Harper Jr., father Ron Harper Sr., and Dan Dakich, a former Indiana player and coach who is now a sportscaster with an obscenely loud mouth that likes to target Big Ten players not wearing a Hoosier uni.

The final piece of the puzzle in Dylan Harper’s recruitment, to me, is when Dellquan Warren decommitted. Warren isn’t coming to Rutgers to sit on the bench. Assuming that Davis signs this summer and Simpson doesn’t transfer, Warren will not see much of the court in 2024 running point. Add in Harper, who can play point, and the ball can only go to so many players. I get it if you still doubt my logic. My family doubts me everyday so I implore you to listen to The Knight Report’s latest futurecast.

And most importantly in my mind, if Dylan Harper is only playing at the college level for one season before entering the NBA draft, why do it anywhere else than Rutgers? He’s got the local family support, mom and dad in the stands, and already knows he’ll be loved at the RAC (aka Jersey Mike’s Arena). Dylan and Rutgers just makes too much sense.

In other good news, 4-star wing Bryce Dortch is set to take a visit to Piscataway in June. He’s the exact type of long, elite defender coach Pike desires. Rutgers also hired assistant coach Marlon Williamson to replace Karl Hobbs, Williamson and current coach Brandon Knight spent time together at Pitt from 2014-2016. He was at LIU-Brooklyn from 2016-21 and spent the last two season at Central Michigan. It’s no secret that coach Knight has been crucial to the basketball rebuild under Pikiell and bringing in an assistant he’s close with will only help this program continue to rise. The Knights are also finalizing their 2023 out of conference schedule, with what I hope are some high majors. Stay tuned for more updates.

O5 31 23 Update: Clifford Omoruyi withdraws from the NBA draft and will return to Rutgers for the 2023-24 season.