Third of a four-part series
|Andrew Harrison -- Point guard|
|Height: 6-feet-5||Weight: 210 lbs.||High school: Travis||AAU team: Houston Defenders|
Why he's No. 1: Nearly impossible to keep out of the lane; terrific playmaker off the dribble; finishes in traffic and scores in different ways.
Why he's not No. 1: Inconsistent jump shot from 3-point range; needs to keep emotions under control.
What kind of pro: With his ability to beat his defender off the dribble, Harrison is going to be a stud playmaker in the NBA. Terrific size for his position.
Comparison: Tyreke Evans
Recruiting: Kentucky, Maryland, Villanova, Baylor
|Aaron Harrison -- Shooting guard|
|Height: 6-feet-5||Weight: 205 lbs.||High school: Travis||AAU team: Houston Defenders|
Why he's No. 1: Outstanding offensive player with the ability to knock down midrange and 3-point jumpers; has improved playmaking ability.
Why he's not No. 1: Needs to develop his passing skills a bit more; also needs to keep his emotions under control.
What kind of pro: When his shot is falling, Harrison can carry an offense. He can score in a variety of ways, and his ball-handling ability has raised his ceiling.
Comparison: Joe Johnson
Recruiting: Kentucky, Maryland, Villanova, Baylor
• • •
They might be the best package deal in the history of college basketball. That's because they're brothers, a tandem of top-10 talents. One is ranked No. 2 overall in the latest CBSSports.com 2013 top 100, the other No. 4.
Because the two will come as one, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison are the most coveted recruiting coup in the 2013 class. Twice the talent and twice the enticement, especially when the 6-foot-5 guards who share the same genes are seen as future first-round draft picks. If given a choice, most coaches would take this couple over any other single player in the 2013 class. And why not? It's not often this recruiting opportunity comes along. The Morris twins at Kansas, the Wear twins at North Carolina (now UCLA) -- they're the most recent examples of brothers who locked arms and decided on the same school, going as a "package," so to speak.
Those two couples weren't nearly as highly regarded as Aaron (the nation's top-rated shooting guard) and Andrew (No. 1 among point guards). That doesn't mean these two will end up with amazing careers, but entering the prime of their high school lives, things couldn't be much better for these brothers and identical twins. The decision on their destination is likely to come in October, when they turn 18.
Their list is simple, yet unusual. Kentucky, of course, followed by Maryland, Baylor and Villanova. Not often you see a final four whittled to that quartet.
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The Harrisons live in Richmond, Texas, a 40-minute drive from Houston. The Baylor/southeast Texas connection comes in there, as the school has recruited the duo longer than any remaining program in the thick of it. Villanova has earned a spot because Jay Wright has sent plenty of guards to the NBA and has won consistently with guard-oriented offenses over the past eight years. The Maryland tie-in comes from the Harrisons' father. Aaron Harrison Sr. grew up in Baltimore, played at Patterson High School and fought in Desert Shield. Terps coach Mark Turgeon recruited the Harrisons before he got to Maryland, when he was at Texas A&M.
As for Kentucky? Hey, it's Kentucky. John Calipari is on almost every elite recruit's dream list at one point or another, sometimes staying at the top even after a recruit commits to another school.
Whichever school the pair choooses, it'll automatically vault said school into most -- if not all -- top-five lists for 2013 recruiting classes. The decision to go to the same program never was debated. Like the implied Sunday night big family dinner, it was always just presumed the two would ship off to the same school.
So who are these guys, this twosome that the media will make sure you know plenty about by Christmas 2013? They insist on their regularity. Just a couple of normal guys with a tight circle of friends who don't do anything too special outside of basketball. They aren't big video-game players. However, Aaron said they both pay attention to the clothes they wear.
"We're into fashion a little bit," he said, "matching our shoes and whatnot."
Ask them how they're different -- indicating some discrepancies in general human condition and personality traits -- and each immediately relates the conversation to hoops. Yep, that same-minded twin thing springs right to mind when you're on the other end of the phone.
"We're always together, always together," Andrew said.
It was something else talking to this pair, the two interviews six hours apart. The Harrisons have actually developed somewhat of a reputation on the court for their demeanor, complaining over calls and playing time. Away from the game, they're extremely relaxed and easy to talk to. And they always want to talk about basketball, a trait common to most top-20 recruits.
The irony to their hoops ascension stems from the fact both loved to play football (Aaron could throw it 50 yards as an eight-grader) until high school came and a decision had to be made. Andrew still loves the game and wishes he could play. But at this point huge dollar signs dance on the horizon, so precautionary measures had to be taken. He also used to skateboard a lot. Then dad took that away.
"Aaron's first love is skateboard," Harrison Sr. said. To hear dad say that in a casual way reminds one of everyday sacrifices kids make to doggedly chase the NBA dream.
In AAU ball, the Harrisons play for the Houston Defenders. In July, the team will travel to Philly, Milwaukee then Orlando. Their coach? Dad. He created the team when his sons were in fourth grade and football was the Harrison family sport. Sensing a need to look out for his sons' best interest, creating the AAU squad from scratch was his best option.
"Football was the first, but basketball just kept coming," said Harrison Sr., 43. "We realized everybody had their own agenda in mind and we wanted to put together a bunch of football players and put them on a basketball team."
The twins, who still share a bedroom despite open rooms being available, "are different in so many ways," said Harrison Sr.
Recruiting picked up in a big way last year, but even with the public announcement of their four remaining schools, calls from unknown numbers haven't slowed precipitously. Aaron admits the excitement in being courted was there at first but added, "I wouldn't say it's annoying now, but ... I don't know ..."
His thought trails off. He doesn't want to badmouth the process, but it's clear the kid just wants one night away from his phone to dodge correspondence. The calls come in frequently, and it's not only coaches. Reporters also are chasing them down for a few quotes.
"It's definitely been a blessing, and I won't understate it, but it can get overwhelming at times," Harrison Sr. said. "I just try to take it all in stride. I'm no doubt definitely blessed, probably the most blessed man in the world. My kids don't give me any trouble."
That's not true of opponents. The two, who play for Travis High, lost in the Texas state championship after going 36-4 last season. Their games became big draws because there's clearly that special level of connection that takes place on the floor. The team finished ranked eighth in the country.
"They both have a fun, happy personality, but Aaron has to get to know you a little better first," Harrison Sr. said. "Aaron is responsible and Andrew is mature, and yes, those are two different things. As brothers you expect them to have differences and always have confrontations, but I can't ever remember them having a physical confrontation. They don't have many disagreements, and yet they're two totally different personalities."
Andrew, the point guard, is the dominant personality and says he's more likely to speak up. That leads this writer to believe it'll be Andrew who speaks up first on which school he thinks is best. From there, that has to be an interesting conversation, yeah? The pair has already agreed to go to the same school ... so what if Aaron wants School A and Andrew wants School B? How will it be decided? Brotherly disagreements have myriad ways of resolution.