NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — The NBA Draft in Brooklyn is approaching quickly. Rutgers standout Ron Harper Jr. is one of many that is hoping to hear his name called, but history isn’t on his side.
“We have built something great at Rutgers in my four years. This is a new steppingstone,” Harper Jr. told PIX 11 News. “Trying to be the first player drafted since 2010. Trying to break down the barriers that they’ve given us.”
The last Rutgers grad in the NBA was 7-footer Hamady N’Diaye. He was drafted in the second round in 2010 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Harper Jr. is also projected to go in the same round. The legacy he built while at Piscataway is remarkable.
The former Don Bosco star led Rutgers to their first national ranking since 1979 and back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament. He added another feat to his resume in March by becoming the first Rutgers player named All-American, a title not held since Quincy Douby in 2006.
Those accolades are all in the past. Harper Jr. is excited to begin new journey. One that his father, Ron Harper Sr. knows all too well.
“My dad told me it’s really hard to get into the league. It’s harder to stay in the league,” Harper Jr. explained. “Every chance I get, I’m going to have to work harder and harder for what I think I deserve.”
Harper Jr. grew up with unfair expectations playing basketball. His dad is an NBA legend and won five championships, three of them while playing with Michael Jordan.
Harper Jr. is ready to break out of his dad’s shadow on the big stage, again.
“I was a kid that worked for everything I have. I was never given anything because of my dad’s name. I worked for everything. Every ranking, every offer, every star to be where I am today,” Harper Jr. said. “It’s really humbling to me. I hope it’s an inspiration to kids. You never have to be the best player on your team. It’s how you consistently work.”
The NBA Draft is on June 23. The Knicks own the 11th overall pick.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many NBA championships Ron Harper Sr. won with Michael Jordan.