Rutgers priority target Dylan Harper proved to the college basketball recruiting world that he isn’t dropping from his top ranking in the 2024 class any time soon. Fresh off playing for Team USA last week at the FIBA U-19 World Cup, Harper proved at the Peach Jam that he deserves to be the No. 1 recruit in the country. After missing the first game on Monday after the quick turnaround from playing overseas, Harper was dominant in six games. His Peach Jam experience ended on Saturday night with his New York Rens losing to Vegas Elite in the semifinals.
He finished second in scoring at the Peach Jam with 21.2 points per game. More impressive, Harper shot 52.1% from the floor. This includes 39 of 66 for 59.1% from two-point range, 10 of 28 for 35.7% from three-point range and 19 of 25 for 76.0% from the foul line. He also averaged 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals. Harper averaged 29.7 minutes, a heavy workload following the past three weeks with Team USA. He never wilted and only got stronger.
His three most prolific outings came on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Harper scored 24 points on 55.0% shooting on Thursday and 26 points on 61.5% shooting on Friday including 4 of 7 from three (57.1%).
In the quarterfinals on Saturday, Harper shined with 27 points on 10 of 18 shooting along with 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes. He was 1 of 4 from behind the arc and 6 of 9 from the foul line.
Harper’s run ended on Saturday night when the NY Rens lost in the Peach Jam semifinals to Vegas Elite 80-68. Playing his second game of the day, Harper finished with 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting including 3 of 4 from three-point range. He added 4 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes. He finally started to show some tiredness with 6 turnovers and zero trips to the foul line. I think he earned some leniency after the marathon run he just completed.
Throughout the entire week. the Rutgers coaching staff had a visible presence at all of Harper’s games. This came a week after Steve Pikell and Brandin Knight traveled to Hungary last week to watch Harper play for Team USA. On Thursday, Pikiell and Knight were courtside along with new assistant coach Marlon Williamson.
On Friday, as Harper took on Rutgers commit Lathan Sommerville, RU was four deep in adding assistant TJ Thompson to the group watching courtside. Note Sommerville had 9 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and a steal in the loss, finishing his own impressive Peach Jam run. The 4-star big man led his team, Brad Beal Elite, with 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game over 5 contests.
As for Harper’s recruitment, Duke, Kansas, Auburn and Indiana are the other schools in his top five. All were present this week as well.
Harper spoke with Travis Barnham of 247 Sports during the Peach Jam and was non-committal on his timeline to make a college decision.
“Probably some time after this or during the high school season,” he said.
As for his process, Harper explained, “Probably learning about the schools and programs as a whole and just getting a feel for how the coaches in my top five take care of everyone. Even like 1-15, bench players and star players, how they all treat each other.” He added, “If I feel like the fit is right with the school” in regard to making his final decision.
Rutgers continues to show Dylan that they believe he is the transformational recruit that the program needs to take things to another level. After Pikiell and Knight watched Dylan overseas at the FIBA U-19 World Cup, he commented on Rutgers, saying “They’re a great staff, they always show me love and support. Anytime I need them, I can always hit them up.”
It remains to be seen when Harper will ultimately make his decision. Two things do appear certain.
1) Dylan Harper proved that he is in fact the No. 1 recruit in the 2024 recruiting class.
2) Pikiell and the staff continue to show Harper that he wouldn’t be just another recruit coming to Rutgers. He would be at the other schools he is considering. Pikiell has known him the longest of all the head coaches that are recruiting him. Pikiell offered him first before those schools did. And Pikiell was the only head coach to make the trip to Hungary. Now the entire staff is watching him at the premier AAU event of the year. These are seen as major statements in recruiting circles.
Time will tell if Rutgers lands Harper, but both recruit and program are making their case to justify the hype each are marketing to the other.
There is no one that deserves to land a recruit more than Steve Pikiell deserves to land Dylan Harper.
Every time he steps between the lines, Steve is there. If Dylan had a game on Mars, Steve would hop in one of those space rovers to make sure he’s courtside.
It will pay off.
— Trilly Donovan (@trillydonovan) July 7, 2023
Editor’s note: Rutgers commits 5-star Ace Bailey and 4-star Bryce Dortch do not play on the Nike EYBL circuit, but the staff watched them play this past week in other events. I’ll have an update soon.
You can watch plenty of highlights of Dylan Harper at the Peach Jam below.
— SLAM HS Hoops (@SLAM_HS) July 7, 2023
— SportsCenter NEXT (@SCNext) July 7, 2023
— Top Bunk Sports (@Topbunksports) July 8, 2023
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