In an announcement made via their Twitter and Instagram accounts, Rutgers men’s basketball senior guard Geo Baker and junior guard Ron Harper Jr. both announced today that they will return to the Scarlet Knights for the 2021-22 season.
The decisions from Baker and Harper Jr. come on the final day that both student-athletes had to decide on whether to remain in the 2021 NBA Draft, a decision that would forfeit their remaining college eligibility, or to return to school.
“Although last year was historic, the way it ended still doesn’t sit well with me,” Baker said in a short video announcing his return. “We still have some unfinished business to take care of, and I am excited to get to it with Rutgers nation by my side. I’m back.”
Baker has been the face of Rutgers basketball in his four seasons spent with the program. Last season, Baker averaged 10.4 points per game (PPG) to go along with 3.2 assists per game. Both statistics ranked inside the top three for last season’s team.
As for Harper Jr., the Knights will welcome back their leading scorer from a year ago as well as an experienced veteran of the program. In 32 minutes per game last season, Harper Jr. averaged a program-high 14.1 PPG alongside the second-highest rebounding numbers on the team, hauling in nearly six rebounds per game.
“Rutgers nation, I’m back,” Harper Jr. said in his announcement video that was posted on his Instagram page. “One more time. The job is not finished.”
As Baker and Harper Jr. allude to in their announcement videos, the Knights’ season last year came to a bitter end. After narrowly defeating Clemson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Rutgers fell to Houston in heartbreaking fashion after being just seconds away from a Sweet 16 appearance.
“We've been through so much this year. Honestly, if you weren't inside you really just can't understand it, from isolating to wins to losses to being here in March,” Baker said after the season-ending loss. “A lot of us were trying to go to March Madness last year, we didn't get that chance. For a lot of us it's been two years now. So just leading up to this moment, to lose like that was tough.”
With his return, Baker has partnered with ALVA Fitness to create his own collection of merchandise, including jerseys. This decision is made possible by the newfound ability of college athletes to profit off of the name, image and likeness, something that Baker has been advocating for. The NCAA rule changes officially went into effect on July 1.
“I’d also like to announce the unveiling of my custom (Baker) Scarlet Knights jersey created by ALVA Fitness,” Baker said later in his video. “I hope we can get a RAC full of Scarlet Knight jerseys.”
With Baker and Harper Jr. now back for another season, the Knights have retained several key pieces from the core that brought the program to its first NCAA Tournament in three decades. Next season, Rutgers will look to make consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1975 and 1976 seasons.