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Ron Harper Jr. adds to Rutgers legacy by earning another historic honor

Ron Harper Jr. further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in Rutgers basketball history this week by winning another prestigious prize.

The forward was named the winner of the Haggerty Award on Monday, the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association announced.

He becomes the third player in program history to win the award, given annually to the best men’s college basketball player in the New York metropolitan area, along with Phil Sellers (1975, 76) and Quincy Douby (2006).

“It’s an honor to win the Haggerty Award and it took a village to get here,” Harper said in a press release. “There are a lot of well-deserving players for this award, and I am extremely honored the metropolitan writers voted for me. Winning the Haggerty Award has never been about myself and it’s an honor to be in the same class as Rutgers greats Quincy Douby and Phil Sellers. It’s a privilege to be where I am today.”

Harper led the Scarlet Knights with 15.8 points on 44.2% shooting (47.7% on 2s, 39.8% on 3s, 79.5% on free throws) per game last season, along with 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

The distinction is the latest in a landmark season for Harper, who declared for the NBA Draft last month to signal the probable end of an all-time career in Piscataway. He became the 11th player in program history to be named an All-American near the end of last season, being named an honorable mention by the Associated Press.

Harper finishes his Rutgers career with 1,525 points, tied with Roy Hinson for 11th-most in program history.

He was instrumental in the Scarlet Knights earning its first NCAA Tournament bid in 30 years as a junior in the 2020-21 season and then bringing them back to March Madness as a senior in 2021-22, the first time the Scarlet Knights made back- to-back NCAA Tournaments since the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.

Harper was the first player in program history to be named an All-Big Ten selection by the Associated Press and, along with teammate Geo Baker, was the first player since 1993 to be a two-time all-league selection.

He has a chance to be the first Scarlet Knight to be selected in the NBA Draft since Hamady N’Diaye was chosen in the second round by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2010 draft. The 2022 draft is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 23, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“I’m real proud of Ron Harper Jr. for winning this prestigious award,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said in a release. “When you think of the Haggerty award, you think about the long tradition of legendary basketball players who have won this award in the New Jersey area. It’s a credit to Ron and the hard work that he’s put in since he got to Rutgers. Thank you to the metropolitan writers for voting Ron to receive this outstanding honor. To win the Haggerty Award as a kid who grew up in New Jersey makes this extra special for him.”

Harper was also named First-Team All-Met by the MBWA. He is joined by teammates Geo Baker and Caleb McConnell, who were voted to the second and third team, respectively.

“I am so proud of Geo and Caleb for continuing to be recognized in their illustrious careers at Rutgers,” Pikiell said. “Thank you to the metropolitan writers for voting for them. These seniors came to Rutgers when we were just selling the dream of making the NCAA Tournament. They have changed the culture for the Scarlet Knights men’s basketball program, and we look forward to what’s ahead for each of them.”

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Brian Fonseca may be reached at bfonseca@njadvancemedia.com.

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