"I think the determining factor for me was my relationship with Coach [Kevin] Willard," Aiken told ESPN. "The first conversation we had, he expressed his belief in me as a player to help sustain the success they've been able to achieve over the past few years. Felt I could be that piece to help elevate them going into next season."
Aiken, a 6-foot point guard from New Jersey, is No. 5 in ESPN's graduate transfer rankings. He played just seven games last season due to a sprained foot but earned unanimous first-team All-Ivy honors in 2018-19 after averaging 22.2 points and shooting 39.8% from 3-point range.
A native of Randolph, New Jersey, Aiken was recruited by Seton Hall out of high school but chose Harvard over the Pirates. His familiarity with Willard and the program made the difference when it came to deciding where to play his final college season.
"It means tons to me, having that preexisting relationship to really rely on," Aiken said. "I knew everything about the university and the program, and that helped me in the situation we're in today, in the global pandemic. Not being able to go out and visit these other schools. Seton Hall, I already knew everything about. There was a certain level of comfort that I had. It made making a decision so much easier."
Aiken will help replace Big East Player of the Year Myles Powell, a first-team All-American who averaged 21.0 points last season. Powell and Aiken have been close since high school and took a visit to Seton Hall together back in high school.
"Me and Myles talk regularly, regardless," Aiken said. "When he heard about me exploring the fifth-year option, he reached out and threw his little pitch about Seton Hall. Little did he know Seton Hall was in the forefront of my mind."
Seton Hall is coming off a season in which the Pirates earned a share of the Big East regular-season title and won at least 20 games for the fifth straight season. But Willard and the Pirates will lose three senior starters from that group, and Aiken and Canisius transfer Takal Molson (16.9 PPG) will be counted on to help replace the departed production.
"I'm just hoping to come in and help them win, man," Aiken said. "Winning a share of the Big East title was a big accomplishment for that program. I'm not gonna throw any promises out there, but i just want to come in and win as much as possible. And take pride in representing my home state in front of friends and family."