Rutgers basketball fans are sprinting towards next season following a disappointing 2023-24 campaign that saw the Scarlet Knights go 15-17 and finish near the bottom of the Big Ten Conference standings. A drastic roster renovation is invigorating Piscataway, New Jersey. Though, the latest news concerning five-star recruit Dylan Harper may dampen the mood a bit.

The freshman guard underwent successful surgery for a right knee injury he suffered during his senior year at the illustrious Don Bosco Preparatory High School, according to's Brian Fonseca. Head coach Steve Pikiell says Harper will likely miss the first several weeks of Rutgers' two-month summer workout session, which could obviously prevent the team from perfecting its chemistry.

Harper, son of five-time NBA champion Ron Harper and brother of former Rutgers star Ron Harper Jr., is ranked the No. 3 prospect in the 2024 class just behind new teammate Airious “Ace” Bailey and Duke's Cooper Flagg, per 247 Sports. He co-headlines an influx of talent that should launch the program back into national relevance.

The Scarlet Knights have been inserted in the top 25 of multiple media outlets' preseason rankings, which, if accurate, would earn them their best mark in more than 40 years. Success does not come easy in Rutgers, however. A setback is the norm in these parts, but at least this Dylan Harper development is coming long before this still-promising campaign officially begins.

Rutgers has plenty of intriguing talents besides Dylan Harper

McDonald's All American West guard Dylan Harper (2) drives past McDonald's All American East forward Isaiah Evans (0) during the second half at Toyota Center.
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming all goes as expected, the 18-year-old out of Ramsey will be in action for the season opener. Though, Pikiell should have an abundance of resources to turn to on this loaded squad. Fellow five-star Bailey brings with him a dazzling blend of size (6-foot-8) and athleticism.

In addition to a stellar recruiting coup, Pikiell also secured a wealth of firepower from the transfer portal, adding former mid-major stars Jordan Derkack (Merrimack) and Tyson Acuff (last played for Eastern Michigan). Zach Martini and PJ Hayes provide help on the perimeter, with both shooting better than 38 percent from 3-point range last season.

A potent mix of star power and depth can launch Rutgers basketball into the top tier of the expanding Big Ten. But history is not on their side. The Knights have advanced to the NCAA Tournament just twice in the last 33 years. Things have undoubtedly improved in the Steve Pikiell era, though.

Before 2023-24, Rutgers posted four consecutive winning seasons and punched tickets to back-to-back Big Dances for the first time since 1975-76, also known as the end of the Gerald Ford Administration. With expectations understandably high for this group, a new trend of success could potentially begin with a breakthrough year.

The perception that incoming recruits and the public have about this basketball tradition might change dramatically soon. Dylan Harper will have to be a major agent of that change, however. He is already at Rutgers and should be with the team during his recovery.

The hype trains presses ahead.