One of the best players in Rutgers basketball history, Ron Harper Jr., couldn’t overcome a program drought in the NBA draft picks, but his professional basketball career began Thursday night.
The former Scarlet Knight star was not selected for the 2022 NBA Draft, which means the Rutgers will remain with 19 players drafted throughout, most recently Hamadi Ndiaye in 2010 (56th place overall, Minnesota Timberwolves).
But Harper signed a two-way deal with the Toronto Raptors shortly after the draft concluded, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“58 Reasons Why Let’s Run The Raptors,” Harper tweeted Soon after the news broke, with reference to 58 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft mini field.
Harper, the son of a five-time NBA champion, is following in his father’s footsteps after creating his own legacy in Piscataway.
A nugget connecting the two: Wayne Embry, who is currently a senior basketball consultant in Toronto, Harper chose Sr. from Miami (Ohio) in 1986 When he was the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s according to current Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, who He called it the “full circle moment.”
Harper told NJ Advance Media, Adam Zagoria during the NBA draft collection last month. “I feel it would mean a lot to New Jersey to see a Rutgers guy come back to the NBA and I feel like it would show a lot of New Jersey kids that Rutgers is a place that can take you to the next level.”
Harper finished his career at Rutgers with 1,525 points, tying with Roy Henson for 11th in program history.
He became the eleventh player in the program’s history to be selected last season as an All-American, and received an honorable mention from the Associated Press. Harper was also the first player in the show’s history to be selected by the Associated Press and the third in the show’s history to win a Haggerty Award. Harper joined forces with Phil Sellers (1975, 76) and Quincy Douby (2006) in winning the award, which is given annually to the best men’s college basketball player in the New York metropolitan area.
Harper played a key role in the Scarlet Knights that earned their first NCAA tournament exposure in 30 years during the 2020-21 junior season, and in returning them to March Madness as a senior in 2021-22. This was only the second time in the program’s history that the Crimson Knights played back-to-back NCAA Championships, along with the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Harper led the Scarlet Knights in scoring last season with 15.8 points versus 44.2% in shooting (47.7% in 2 seconds, 39.8% in 3 seconds, 79.5% in free throws) per game, along with 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists decisive. The most memorable moment of the campaign was his iconic match-winning shots against a then number one. 1 Purdue and Indiana in Assembly Hall.
Harper had another year of college eligibility left, but chose to pursue his career aspirations after his fourth season at Piscataway. Signed with Roc Nation Sports and positioned himself against multiple teams throughout the draft process, he was on the NBA Draft group before being said to train with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.
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Brian Fonseca can be reached at [email protected].