Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Rutgers basketball recruiting: Dylan Harper, the No. 2 recruit in 2024 cycle, gives Rutgers No. 3 class

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Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell secured the biggest recruiting win of his coaching career Wednesday when five-star combo guard Dylan Harper, who ranks as the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2024 recruiting cycle according to 247Sports, committed to the Scarlet Knights. Harper’s commitment bumps Rutgers’ historic recruiting class up eight spots to No. 3 overall class in the cycle. 

Harper is the highest-ranked commitment in program history. The 6-foot-6 guard out of Ramsey, New Jersey, elected to remain in his home state and committed to Rutgers over the likes of Duke, Indiana, Auburn and Kansas.

Harper will become the second member of his family to play at Rutgers. His older brother, Ron Harper Jr., played four seasons for the Scarlet Knights and helped break the program’s 30-year NCAA Tournament drought during the 2020-21 season.

Harper gives the program two five-star commitments in one class for the first time ever. Five-star forward Ace Bailey signed with Rutgers last month during the early signing period. Harper is the fifth member of Rutgers’ recruiting class after Bailey, three-star forward Lathan Sommerville, three-star forward Bryce Dortch and three-star forward Dylan Grant signed their national letters of intent last month.

How Harper fits in at Rutgers

Harper debuted in the 2024 recruiting rankings as the No. 37 overall prospect before making a drastic leap into the top five. At one point, Harper was ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the class before Duke signee Cooper Flagg reclassified to join the Blue Devils next season. Harper has a high basketball IQ and showed that he is one the top rebounding guards in the country during EYBL play. He can play on or off the ball and has shown an ability to attack the paint at a high level. Harper and Bailey should form a dynamic duo next season, which will be a problem for opposing teams in the Big Ten.

Here’s 247Sports’ Adam Finkelstein evaluation of the newly committed Rutgers star:

Harper is one of the most consistently productive and effective players in high school basketball. The southpaw is physically imposing in the backcourt with excellent positional size, very long arms, and a strong build. He’s also a late-bloomer who has continued to grow throughout his high school years. Harper is a true combo-guard who is equally effective either on or off the ball. He’s even versatile in different types of roles as he can thrive as a team’s primary creator, as he did in the EYBL with the Rens, or as more of a secondary weapon, as he did with the USA Basketball u19 team. His poise, understanding of the game, and instinctive feel are constants. He’s a solid athlete, albeit not necessarily totally dynamic. … Harper is also an outstanding perimeter rebounder (7.1/game in the EYBL regular season) with the size, length, and strength to eventually be a somewhat versatile defender, although he could potentially struggle with smaller, quicker guards and could still polish some of his fundamentals away from the ball on the weakside of the floor. Overall, he not only stuffs all columns of the stat sheet like no other guard in the class, but he’s extremely mature with an ideal mentality.

Scarlet Knights’ historic recruiting class

It’s safe to say this is an outlier recruiting class for Rutgers. Last season, the Scarlet Knights ranked No. 69 in the 247Sports team rankings. The year before that, in 2022, they ranked No. 99 overall. Prior to this cycle, Rutgers had never landed a five-star prospect in the 247Sports era. Here is a look at where Rutgers finished in the team recruiting rankings under Pikiell since he was hired as Scarlet Knights coach following the 2015-16 season:

  • 2016: 100
  • 2017: 64
  • 2018: 51
  • 2019: 126
  • 2020: 32
  • 2021: 103
  • 2022: 99
  • 2023: 69
  • 2024: 3*

* Rutgers’ 2024 recruiting class isn’t officially set, but it’s clear that Harper and Bailey were its top priorities. Landing two of the players in the class is an impressive accomplishment. With Harper going to Rutgers and not Duke (one of his finalists), it may prevent the Blue Devils from finishing with the best recruiting class in the 247Sports era. Had Harper committed to Duke, the Blue Devils would’ve certainly locked up the best recruiting class of all time. Regardless, Duke is still expected to finish with the No. 1 overall class in the 2024 cycle.

Who’s still available in the 2024 class?

With Harper off the board, there are only five uncommitted five-stars in the 2024 recruiting class. The top-ranked player of the bunch is five-star shooting guard VJ Edgecombe, who ranks as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class. Edgecombe currently has a 247Sports Crystal Ball to Duke and the Blue Devils are currently considered a co-favorite with St. John’s for his services. 

Five-star center Derik Queen, the No. 12 overall player, is expected to decide between Houston, Indiana, Kansas and Maryland. The other three uncommitted five-star prospects are small forward Karter Knox, power forward Derrion Reid and point guard Zoom Diallo.

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