Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers has not qualified for the NCAA Tournament during Ron Harper Jr.’s lifetime.
In fact, Harper Jr. was born in 1998, seven years after the Scarlet Knights’ last appearance in the Big Dance in 1991.
But the 6-foot-6 Harper, the son of five-time NBA champion Ron Harper, chose Rutgers over out-of-state options like Nebraska because he wants to help build something at Rutgers under third-year coach Steve Pikiell.
Now, with his freshman season about to begin, the Scarlet Knights are undefeated and dreaming big, like every other team in the nation.
“As a team we just want to win games and the ultimate goal for this season is to reach the tournament, the NCAA Tournament,” Harper Jr. told me Tuesday at Rutgers Media Day.
It may not have been Joe Namath guaranteeing the Jets’ Super Bowl victory, or Babe Ruth calling a home run in the 1932 World Series, but Steve Kerr called Klay Thompson’s breakout game.
After Thompson struggled through the early part of the season, the Golden State Warriors coach said of Thompson on Saturday in midtown New York: “Inevitably the dam will break and he’ll start going nuts again. It’ll come. I know he’s frustrated. He’s probably his own biggest critic, so he’ll get it going and we’ll try to help him as best we can.”
Sure enough, Thompson set an NBA record with 14 3-pointers on Monday night against the Bulls, passing his teammate Steph Curry in the process. Thompson went for 52 points on 14-of-24 shooting from deep, 18-of-29 overall. He scored 36 points and 10 3-pointers in the first half.