As the Rutgers men's basketball team builds off of a noteworthy season, the Scarlet Knights saw more recognition for their efforts on the court. The Met Basketball Writers Association named head coach Steve Pikiell All-Met Coach of the Year, adding to junior guard Geo Baker earning All-Met First Team honors and sophomore guard Ron Harper Jr. earning All-Met Second Team accolades.
Pikiell earns this award after leading Rutgers to one of its best seasons in years and building on that with a strong recruitment period in the offseason. On the court, Pikiell led the Knights to their first winning season in 14 years, their first winning conference record since joining the Big Ten and to the cusp of their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991.
This is Pikiell's second postseason award this year, as he was recognized as the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year in March. Under his leadership, Rutgers was nationally ranked for the first time in 41 years and also posted the best home record in the country at 18-1, making the Rutgers Athletic Center a nightmare for opposing teams.
Along with all of his on-the-court accomplishments, Pikiell was also able to put together a strong recruiting class to build off of this season, headlined by center Cliff Omoruyi, a top-40 player in the nation that chose to stay home and play on the Banks.
Baker, a co-captain of the Knights, is the first Rutgers player to earn All-Met First Team accolades since Quincy Douby earned this honor in 2006. Baker secured the selection after also hauling in All-Big Ten Third Team honors. He is the first Knight to make one of the All-Big Ten teams since Rutgers joined the conference in 2014.
The guard showed his full array of skills this year, leading the Knights in steals and minutes per game, all while missing weeks of the season due to a broken thumb. Baker also provided crucial late baskets against Nebraska and Purdue.
Baker was also the 44th player in program history to reach 1,000 points while playing on the Banks, a feat he accomplished late in the season at Wisconsin. The Derry, New Hampshire native currently sits at the 41st position in all-time scoring at Rutgers. This is in addition to Baker ranking 14th all time in assists, 17th in steals and 11th in three-pointers made.
Harper Jr. earned All-Met Second Team accolades after a season in which he led the Knights in scoring with 12.1 points per game. He earned an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection, as his play improved noticeably from his freshman year. The honor was not his first from the Met Basketball Writers Association for his play this year, though. In the Garden State Hardwood Classic against Seton Hall, Harper scored a game-high 18 points and was named the Met Player of the Week three days later.
"I want to thank the Met Basketball Writers Association for this great honor," Pikiell said. "There are a lot of terrific programs and well-deserving coaches in this area and I'm thankful that they recognized Rutgers University."
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