This week, Pro Insight caught up with Dylan Harper, a five-star guard in the class of 2024 who was recently named to the 12-man USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team, which will compete in the 2023 FIBA Men’s U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary. USA has captured the gold medal eight times at this event including three out of the last four competitions and will attempt to add more hardware to its trophy case.
Harper, who is only 17 years old, comes from an athletic family. He is the son of five-time NBA champion Ron Harper, who was drafted 8th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1986. His mother, Maria Pizarro-Harper, played basketball at the University of New Orleans prior to becoming a coach while his older brother, Ron Harper, Jr., was a standout at Rutgers and signed a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors last year. A consensus top-three player in his class, Dylan is a 6’5” lefty guard who possesses a unique combination of size, athletic tools, and skill with pro upside. He has a listed top-five of Auburn, Duke, Rutgers, Kansas, and Indiana, and intends to make a decision on his college choice in the near future.
In this interview with Pro Insight’s Conrad Chow, Harper talked about his experience at USAB training camp and what it means to represent his country on the international stage, his hope to visit the Philippines and tap into his Filipino heritage, deciding factors in his recruitment and advice he has received, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Dylan Harper, from Ramsey, New Jersey:
Pro Insight: Congratulations on being named to the USA Basketball U19 Men’s National Team. What's been your impression of the training camp?
Dylan Harper: Like for me, I think really just everyone knows that I can score the ball. But I think for me, it was just showing the coaches and every scout in the gym that I can play defense. I get my teammates involved. I’m just an overall team player, willing to do whatever it takes. It’s been a fun camp.
PI: Who have you enjoyed playing with this week?
DH: Yeah, people like Tre Johnson, Mark Armstrong, Ian Jackson. Those bigs, like Ernest [Udeh], Omaha [Biliew], people like that, but probably like the whole camp, really. Overall, it’s really been a great time.
PI: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your journey.
DH: Probably just, you know, my mom, my dad, and my brother always told me, “Put your head down and work. What you deserve, you're gonna get.” So I was just putting my head down, just making sure I work every day regardless of if I'm ranked or unranked, stuff like that. So just always working was the main thing for me.
PI: You were recently ranked #1 overall by some media outlets — how do you handle the pressure of being ranked #1 or is there no pressure at all?
DH: For me, I don't think there's never been no pressure for me, because when I got ranked it was like, “OK, that's good, you know? But like this is not the main goal.” The main goal is not to be a high school star. The main goal is to make it to the highest level possible and stay there. So that’s really the main thing for me.
PI: You come from a strong basketball background and your mom also has coaching experience — what is the best basketball advice you’ve received from her?
DH: Yeah, probably just what I said earlier. Always keeping my head down. Working no matter what. No matter what I get, you know, all the rankings, the offers, stuff like that, it doesn't matter because at the end of the day, it's not what I play for. I play for the win and to have fun, ultimately.
PI: Talk a bit more about your Filipino heritage — have you ever been to the Philippines?
DH: It’s great being from a Filipino background, you know. I try to interact with people online and stuff like that. But ultimately, I think I'm gonna probably get out there sometime sooner rather than later. Yeah, definitely, just to see the culture, how people are there, the vibes, how they ultimately live their everyday life because that's part of my background, too.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
DH: I think my greatest strength is getting people involved. I think I can get to the paint willingly. You know, once I get into the paint, everything opens up for not just me, but also my teammates. I can get people open shots. I think ultimately I am a really underrated defender. I think I can guard one-through-three and some fours. So I think those are really the main things for me, and just being a winning player.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
DH: Yeah, probably like all the big guards you see in the NBA, so people like Cade Cunningham, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luka Doncic. People like that, I really model my game after. Just try to take like little pieces from their game and create into mine.
PI: What does it mean to you to represent USAB on the international stage?
DH: It means a lot because when I was growing up, you always see the Dream Team with players like LeBron, Kobe, and them, but you also see the high school team with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, teams like that. So just for me even being invited and even having the chance to go out there is a great opportunity for me, and I know how much it would make me happy if I won a gold [medal].
PI: Let’s turn a bit to your recruitment. How’s your timeline looking for your college commitment?
DH: Yeah, probably like my senior year.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
DH: Probably just a school that is just 100% bought into me. Really a school that…I don't wanna sound selfish or anything, but like when I come in, obviously I'm going to have to work for a starting five spot, but also I would like to have the ball in my hands, ultimately making plays for me and my teammates and just a school that will really help me grow and be more mature.
PI: 2024 five-star forward Airious “Ace” Bailey is already committed to Rutgers, which is one of the schools in your top five. What is his message to you?
DH: Probably just you know, “If I stay home and go to Rutgers with him, we could do great things and big things, ultimately.”
PI: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from your brother Ron Harper, Jr. who went through the recruitment process?
DH: He always tells me, “Coaches, they're all gonna tell me the same thing. You know, just go with your gut. Pick what you really feel like is right for you.”
PI: What are your plans for your final year of high school?
DH: Yeah definitely. I will still be there [at Don Bosco Prep].
PI: Let’s turn a bit to off-the-court rapid fire questions. What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
DH: Probably fashion and video games.
PI: Do you have a favorite fashion brand right now?
DH: No, not really. Stuff like Chrome Hearts, Bape, Gallery Dept. Louis Vuitton, stuff like that, really.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
DH: Dang, hold on. I gotta look at my phone (laughs). Probably YoungBoy. Yeah, right now it’s been a lot of YoungBoy so far.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
DH: That's a good one. Is a coach an option?
PI: For sure. A coach is an option.
DH: Probably a coach or a pro video gamer.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
DH: Biggest pet peeve…people that are not clean, yeah.
PI: Hopefully your roommate [at training camp] was on the clean side.
DH: Yeah, he was clean for sure.
PI: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
DH: Probably a little bit of both, but I think I find a fine line of chilling with people, but also like giving myself space.
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
DH: I don’t got a dream one, but probably one of them is Nike just because growing up, Nike is all I wear, Nikes all the time. Even now, all I wear is Nike so probably Nike, yeah.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
DH: Probably just being remembered that I always put people in front of me because you know, there’s basketball stuff yeah, for me. But you know, like influencing other people and putting people in front of me is probably one of the biggest things my family has told me and taught me.