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Ron Harper Jr. signs NBA contract with Toronto Raptors

Ron Harper Jr. took the next step in his basketball career last night, signing an NBA contract with the Toronto Raptors. – Photo by Rutgers Basketball / Twitter

Former Rutgers men’s basketball guard Ron Harper Jr. signed a two-way contract today with the Toronto Raptors following yesterday's NBA Draft. Now at the start of his NBA career, Harper looks to become the second Scarlet Knight under head coach Steve Pikiell to play in the NBA.

Despite being projected as a second-round pick, Harper was not drafted by the night’s end. This opened the door for him to choose which team he would like to play for, with Harper ultimately choosing the Raptors on a two-way deal.

Introduced prior to the 2017-18 season, two-way contracts are an opportunity for players such as Harper to audition for a bigger role in the NBA. Franchises can have up to two two-way players at a time.

Two-way players will spend a majority of their time in the NBA’s developmental league, the NBA G League, but can also play in as many as 50 of their NBA team’s 82 games. If a player plays well enough, the franchise can convert a player’s two-way contract to a standard NBA contract. The Raptors’ G League affiliate is the Raptors 905.

NBA players who started on a two-way contract include Duncan Robinson, Chris Boucher, Monte Morris and Alex Caruso, who played a key role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ run to the 2020 NBA Championship.

“The Rutgers basketball family is so proud of (Harper) for this opportunity with the Toronto Raptors,” Pikiell said. “This couldn't have happened to a better person or better ambassador for our program on and off the court … I am so excited to watch (Harper's) NBA journey, and I am thrilled for his friends and family.”

Harper joins a Raptors organization that is well known for its player development. Fred VanVleet, who is regarded as one of the best undrafted NBA players of all time, signed with the Raptors in 2016 and has since become an All-Star, NBA champion and regular starter with the franchise.

VanVleet was instrumental in the Raptors’ 2019 run to the NBA Championship. In the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, VanVleet averaged 14 points per game and scored 22 points in the series’ closeout game. He parlayed his success into a four-year, $85 million contract signed in 2020, at the time the largest contract ever for an undrafted player.

In addition to VanVleet, the Raptors developed players such as Boucher, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes, who was last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year.

While Harper’s journey in the NBA is only getting started, he has been congratulated by a host of Rutgers NBA Alumni, such as Phil Sellers, Quincy Douby, Bob Lloyd and Eddie Jordan. Sellers and Lloyd both had their numbers retired by the Knights.

"I want to congratulate (Harper) on being a part of the Rutgers NBA family," Douby, who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2006, said. "He's a stud man. I think his game will translate to the next level. I'll never forget when he hit the biggest shot in Rutgers history against Purdue. When he hit that shot, I literally ran around the house.”

The first chance to see Harper play will likely be in the upcoming NBA Summer League. The Raptors tip off their four-game slate on July 9 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“58 reasons why let’s work @Raptors,” Harper said on Twitter, referring to the 58 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft.

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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