Derek Harper started his basketball careerat North Shore High School. He was a McDonald’s All-American during his senior year. In school, he played for three seasons together with the University of Illinois’ Fighting Illini basketball team. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten, and Second-Team All-American in 1983. He entered the NBA Draft in 1983 and was picked as the first round, 11th overall pick by Dallas Mavericks. After 10 years together with the team, Harper was traded to New York Knicks in 1994. Derek returned to the Mavericks after two seasons together with the Knicks. When he was traded by the Lakers to Detroit Pistons, as opposed to reporting to the team, he decided to stop his 16 years NBA career.