ron harper jr. rutgers
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker are returning to Rutgers after testing the NBA Draft waters. Watch out Big Ten.

Rutgers basketball isn’t going anywhere. Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker are both withdrawing from the 2021 NBA Draft and coming back to Piscataway.

Harper Jr. averaged 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Scarlet Knights last season. He’ll be a focal point offensively for Steve Pikiell next season.

Baker is synonymous with Rutger’s return to prominence. This will be his fifth year in Piscataway as he takes advantage of the extra year of eligibility due to COVID.

Baker is going to be the next great college basketball player in the “Wait, he’s still in school?” club. He’s joining the likes of Perry Ellis, Aaron Craft, and Marshall Henderson on the Mount Rushmore of players who played college hoops forever.

To longtime college sports fans, Rutgers playing in the Big Ten still feels strange. All the same, this Scarlet Knights team has a chance to make some noise in the conference next year.

After winning a game in the NCAA Tournament, they are poised to build on that success with Harper Jr. and Baker leading the way.

Of course, nothing is ever certain in college basketball. Rutgers finished fifth and sixth in the Big Ten the last two seasons. Not to mention, they are losing their second-leading scorer from last year, Jacob Young, to Oregon.

But Pikiell brought his team to the cusp of the Sweet 16 after Rutgers was a doormat for years. This is going to be a veteran-led team with more to prove.