Dylan Harper: Identifying The New Number Two Recruit’s Star Upside

Film High School

Dylan Harper, the number one recruit among rising seniors in high school before Cooper Flagg reclassified into 2024, jumped into the top spot on most ranking sites during and after a strong EYBL season. Now the consensus number two recruit, Harper still has many fans in NBA front offices. Per Synergy, he averaged 20 PPG, 4.7 APG, 6.5 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG, and 2.7 TOPG on splits of 49/34/63. After watching several games of Harper, both in person at EYBL in Dallas and on film, the way he impacts the game in so many different ways stands out, along with outstanding ball-skills and an overall clear intelligence in decision-making.

Three key skill areas pop for Harper, in addition to his strong intangibles coming from a basketball family: Passing, scoring, and defense. His feel for the game, decision-making, and ability to use his physical tools and ball-skills will be explained in the breakdown of each of these categories.

Starting with the most underrated area of Harper’s game, his passing stats are backed up with more than effective & simple plays. Per Synergy, in EYBL he had 108 assists to 62 turnovers, which is an impressive mark for a team that had a ‘by-committee’ approach to their PG rotation, which can put Harper in the classification of a non-primary ball-handler. Furthermore, with the USA U19 team earlier this summer Harper had a magnificent 7:1 assist:turnover ratio with 21 assists and 3 turnovers through 7 games, while only starting 2 of those 7 games.

Dylan Harper is an impressive passer, arguably better than he gets credit for. He recognizes pressure and napping off-ball defenders for open cutters and he does a good job of recognizing where the pressure comes from, helping him identify the open teammate. The timing is the most important feature to his specific skillset, being able to find the opening and reading when the window opens and closes. Another area that helps him is being able to use his scoring threat to create for other teammates. Take the first clip (above) when Harper explodes off the catch, then puts the rim protector in a spot where he has to make a decision to attack Harper’s layup, or stop a potential alley-oop, which is usually a lose-lose scenario for a defender. Harper notices the step towards him from the rim protector, and immediately lobs a deceptive alley-oop leading to the assist.

While this is just one example, throughout the video it becomes noticeable that he sees the passing angles at the right times from the right reads. As a 6’6 combo guard/off-guard, being able to distribute as well as he can score and defend are important.

As a scorer, there’s realistic 3 level scoring upside for Harper as he scales up to his next level of competitions. Harper can use his size to his advantage against point guards assigned to him by either overpowering them, or by his lethal spin move and a crafty behind the back move to navigate through traffic. With a quick change of speed, and at minimum above average grades on athleticism with the ball in his hands to go along with skill, Harper’s upside is loud and easy to see in a variety of ways, both with and without the ball offensively. Below showcases the slashing, and above showcases his consistent mechanics, being able to shoot off the dribble, and creating space into jump shots. While Harper’s free throw percentage is lower than scouts want to see, the shooting has constantly been labeled as projectable, and at least workable. 

Harper checks almost every box for combo guard scorers in what scouts like to see as a prototypical combo guard. With slashing that allows for him to use his ideal frame to his advantage, as well as finesse moves to get into difficult yet efficient jump shots, he is an unpredictable player to defend, and he is a matchup nightmare for coaches to gameplan against.

It’s not just in EYBL too that he is able to score so easily and smoothly. These plays in FIBA U19 highlight an excellent spin move, giving him a move that could be his patented move given how effective it is against multiple different levels of competition.

Defensively, Harper can defend multiple positions and spots on the floor. He can defend primary ball-handlers and wings, particularly on the drive, while also using his length to impact jump shots. With a primary rim protector next to him at the next level, this should only enhance his defensive impact on drives. Given his motor and how he is committed to staying in stance defensively, Harper has real potential to be a two-way star with modern height to play multiple positions. As he gets stronger, Harper can become more of a lockdown defender by using his combination of length, motor, and intelligence to make ball-handlers’ lives more difficult. With today’s NBA and how defense has become more of a chore for offensive stars, Dylan Harper’s defensive upside is as high as he chooses to make it.

Overall, what makes Dylan Harper stand out above the rest of his recruit class as the number one recruit is his combination of 3 level scoring, defense, size & athleticism, and playmaking. As he masters these already strong skills, he has a chance to maximize and reach his high ceiling. The son of former NBA’er Ron Harper, Dylan has a chance to create his own unique legacy as a likely 2025 NBA Draft lottery pick. With a strong work ethic that he has inherited and mastered from his own basketball family, as Dylan improves on his current weaknesses, he has a chance to become a dominant & successful modern backcourt player.