Dylan Harper's dad, Ron Harper, won three titles alongside Michael Jordan.

Dylan Harper – Where Will the 5-Star PG Land?

        Earlier this year, Dylan Harper narrowed his list down to five schools. The list includes Rutgers, Duke, Auburn, Kansas, and Indiana. At first, Harper planned to announce where he would be committing to after the Nike EYBL circuit concluded. Subsequently, 2024’s consensus top basketball prospect changed his mind, instead deciding to make his announcement sometime after the start of the high school season. Rutgers University is pursuing him the hardest, and there is mutual interest. On the other hand, Duke University is the school that multiple insiders believe he will eventually land. 

Dylan Harper’s Father was an NBA legend

        Dylan Harper is the son of Ron Harper, who won the MAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year award in 1985 and 1986. After leaving Miami University in Ohio, Ron Harper was drafted 8th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He later played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers. Harper was the starting point guard on the Chicago Bulls, playing alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the second three-peat from 1996-1998.

        Ron Harper then won back-to-back titles (2000-01) for the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Dylan Harper’s father would also coach in the NBA as an assistant for the Detroit Pistons from 2005-07. In conclusion, no man is more qualified to teach the game of basketball than Dylan Harper’s father. He took what he learned from coaching and playing with several NBA Hall-of-Famers and passed it on to his sons.

Background

        Dylan Harper was born in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, on March 2, 2006. Harper and his siblings were raised in New Jersey by their mother, Maria, while their father finished his fifteen-year professional playing career with the LA Lakers. Maria Harper played Division-one basketball herself at the University of New Orleans. She is an assistant basketball coach at Don Bosco Prep, where her son Dylan plays. Maria Harper is also a basketball trainer and a coach for Stack AAU Basketball, a New Jersey-based organization. On top of having an NBA veteran as a father, Dylan Harper’s mother also contributed significantly to her son’s success.

        Harper attends Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, New Jersey. As a freshman, he was already the best guard on Don Bosco’s roster. He played alongside forwards and brothers Akil and Tarik Watson, both highly recruited prospects. As a sophomore in 2021-22, Harper led the Don Bosco basketball team in scoring and developed into a far more robust and physical defender. Harper’s junior season saw his game grow even more, leading Don Bosco Prep in scoring again (23.4 ppg) en route to a 26-3 overall record.

Skillset

        Dylan Harper is a crafty left-handed guard that can score at an elite level. He sees the floor well and is an excellent passer that loves setting up his teammates. Harper possesses a very high basketball IQ, likely due to having an NBA legend as his father. Harper has excellent touch around the rim and can get hot quickly from three-point range. His instincts shine the most on the defensive end, where he excels and can effectively guard one through four.

        On both ends of the floor, Harper’s body control and positioning are elite. He is always at the right place at the right time. Dylan Harper excels as a 1-on-1 defender and plays help defense and any guard in the country. His defensive instincts and ability to close the distance are unmatched by other 2024 guard prospects. Defensively, he can stay in front of quicker guards on the perimeter and is physical enough to contain larger forwards around the rim.

        Harper efficiently uses his length and finesse to finish at a high rate around the rim. He is excellent at getting to his spots when attacking off the dribble and has the athleticism to rise up over defenders if he needs to. Harper is a smooth player who relies on his skill and intelligence instead of his athletic ability. Moreover, his vertical explosiveness is above average but could be better. He will likely become more explosive on the court as he develops and gets stronger, making him even more dangerous for opponents.

Room for Improvement

        Dylan Harper doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his game. This summer, he was a reasonably streaky shooter from three-point range on the EYBL circuit. Harper struggled from behind the arc in the first three games of the 2023 Peach Jam, shooting 2-for-13 from three. Conversely, he proved how quickly he could heat up from downtown later in the week. Harper would bounce back, shooting 8-for-15 from three over the New York Rens’ last three games at the 2023 Peach Jam.

Rise to Prominence

        Before the 2022 summer circuits began, Harper was ranked the 39th-best prospect in the Class of 2024 (247Sports). He had a strong performance at the 2022 Pangos All-American Camp, competing against the nation’s top talent. An excellent performance on the 2022 summer circuit led to Harper rising inside the top thirty overall prospects by August 2022. His game evolved even further during his junior season at Don Bosco Prep, which led to Harper rapidly ascending to the top five of the 2024 prospect rankings.

        Shortly after receiving an offer from Duke University, he rose to the nation’s number one prospect. The rapid rise in rank was based on his solid and consistent performances for Don Bosco Prep as a Junior and also on the 2023 EYBL circuit. As July ends, Dylan Harper is the consensus number-one basketball prospect in the Class of 2024. In this case, consensus refers to him being the top-rated recruit by 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals, and On3.

2023 Peach Jam

        Dylan Harper played phenomenally for New York Renaissance EYBL at the Peach Jam a few weeks ago. He finished 2nd in scoring in the EYBL bracket with 21.2 ppg. Harper also contributed 3.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game. Despite shooting 0-for-5 from three in Thursday’s game against AZ Unity EYBL, he finished with 24 points, finishing 55% overall from the field. Harper would find his rhythm from outside the next day against Brad Beal Elite, shooting 4-for-7 from three and finishing with 26 points and five assists. New York Renaissance EYBL finished with a record of 5-2 at the 2023 Peach Jam. Vegas Elite defeated them in the semifinal on Saturday, 80-68, who has a loaded roster led by guard John Mobley Jr.

Dylan Harper’s Top-Five List

        Harper narrowed his list down to just five schools in late January. In October 2022, he took an official visit to Duke University. Three weeks later, Harper took an official visit to Indiana University. He has yet to visit the other three schools on his list, which include Auburn, Indiana, and Rutgers. Nevertheless, he has plenty of time for official visits this fall and winter. Dylan Harper attends high school just one hour away from Rutgers. Despite yet to visit officially, it is safe to assume that Harper is already familiar with the campus and facilities in New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell and Duke head coach Jon Scheyer have been seen countless times watching Harper play in the 2023 Nike EYBL circuit.

Rutgers

        If there were hypothetical betting odds on where Dylan Harper would land, Rutgers would be among the favorites. Rutgers was the first school in Harper’s top five list to offer him, back in April of 2021. Attending Rutgers would allow Dylan Harper to stay close to his family. Moreover, his brother, Ron Harper Jr., just graduated from Rutgers after being a four-year starter on the basketball team. He averaged 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in his career and led the Scarlet Knights to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in thirty years. Ron Harper Jr. currently plays for the Toronto Raptors on a two-way contract.

        Ace Bailey, the number two overall prospect and top wing in the Class of 2024, is committed to Rutgers. Harper and Bailey teamed up earlier this year for Atlanta based Nike-sponsored team AOT. They had good chemistry while on the floor together. It would be monumental for the Scarlet Knights basketball program to land the top two prospects in next years class. Rutgers already has the #2 ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2024. A commitment and eventual signing from the number-one overall prospect would propel them to #1. Furthermore, it is reported that Ron Harper prefers for his son to attend Rutgers University, due to its close proximity to their family. 

Duke

        Duke already has a backcourt of potential professional basketball players. It is too early to tell who will declare for the 2024 NBA draft. Most sources believe that Dylan Harper will start as a freshman wherever he goes, including Duke University. Some believe that Duke’s current guard-heavy roster makeup may act as a deterrent to Harper, but I beg to differ. Dylan Harper will enter NCAA basketball with the confidence that he is one of the best guards in the country.

        Duke has always been known for their ability to develop players and help them transition to the NBA. After just one season with the Blue Devils, Guard Tariq Whitehead was drafted 22nd overall by Brooklyn in the 2023 NBA Draft. Jon Scheyer, Head Coach of the Duke Blue Devils, was seen watching several of Harper’s games at the 2023 Peach Jam. It is doubtful that Coach Scheyer would be wasting his time if he didn’t honestly believe he had a chance to land 2024’s top prospect. Duke University is one of the best basketball programs in the country. Their alum base consists of twenty-five active NBA players, the second most of any NCAA school.

Kansas

        As August approaches, the Kansas Jayhawks appear out of the race to get Dylan Harper. Harper has yet to visit the campus in Lawrence, Kansas. There isn’t a strong connection between Bill Self’s staff and the top 2024 prospect. Moreover, there are no new developments in the relationship between Harper and the University of Kansas.

Auburn

        If Dylan Harper were to commit to Auburn University, he would be the highest-ranked basketball recruit in school history. Harper has stated that he likes how Bruce Pearl lets the guards play in his offensive system. The five-star combo guard was also complimentary of Bruce Pearl’s ability to develop players and prepare them to go from the NCAA to the NBA. Conversely, there doesn’t appear to be as strong of a connection between Harper and Auburn’s head coach as some others in his top five.

Indiana

        A few months before announcing his top five schools, Harper visited Indiana University. He named the Hoosiers in his list, so the visit must have gone relatively well. Head Coach Mike Woodson has had a good relationship with Harper for years. Though, as of July 2023, the legendary Hoosiers program and its staff appear to be on the outside looking in regarding landing Harper.

Factors and Prediction

        As we reach the end of the summer, it appears to be a race between Duke and Rutgers. Auburn and Kansas are not likely destinations for Harper. It would not be shocking if Dylan Harper committed to Indiana due to his relationship with Mike Woodson. Still, the Blue Devils and Scarlet Knights appear to be the frontrunners. Another school outside his top five may offer Dylan Harper a massive NIL deal, which could shake things up. Barring new developments, which may include NIL offers, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights look like the slight favorite to land Harper as July comes to a close. Wherever Harper decides to go, he will likely be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft in the next few years.

References

Stats. Nike EYBL. Peach Jam Stats. (2023, July 20). 

2024 top basketball recruits. 247Sports. (2023, July 20).

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