UK basketball: Harrison twins say they'll play for Cats

broberts@herald-leader.comOctober 4, 2012 

  • Aaron Harrison

    Shooting guard

    6-5, 205 pounds

    Travis High School

    Houston, Texas

    Rivals.com ranking: No. 3

    Scout.com ranking: No. 3

    ESPNU ranking: No. 4

    24/7 Sports ranking: No. 2

    "With Aaron, it's all about scoring and his ability to get points from a number of different levels. ... I think, when Aaron hits the basketball floor, he's got a little fire in his belly." — Evan Daniels

  • Andrew Harrison

    Point guard

    6-5, 210 pounds

    Travis High School

    Houston, Texas

    Rivals.com ranking: No. 4

    Scout.com ranking: No. 2

    ESPNU ranking: No. 2

    24/7 Sports ranking: No. 3

    "He's so good at creating for others. He's so good at getting in the lane. He's strong. He's athletic. He's a fierce competitor, too. That dude is an intense basketball player." — Evan Daniels

With 13 words before a packed high school gym Thursday, Andrew Harrison ended one of the most-watched recruitments in recent years.

"For the next four years, we will be attending the University of Kentucky," he said.

Four years, you say?

Kentucky basketball fans will be happy with one. And they'll get it.

Andrew Harrison is the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2013. His twin brother, Aaron, is the No. 1 shooting guard in the class.

And their decision to choose UK over Maryland is a major step toward John Calipari bringing his fifth consecutive No. 1 recruiting class to Lexington.

With the commitment of the Harrisons, Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels said Calipari and the Cats shot up to the top of the early class rankings.

"It's getting to the point where you just expect him to get whoever he wants," Daniels said. "If he's pinpointed a guy, you can pretty much expect him to go out and get him. What he's accomplishing on the recruiting trail is something we haven't seen before."

This could be his biggest coup.

In wresting the Harrisons from Maryland, Calipari managed to outdo Terrapins Coach Mark Turgeon, who Aaron Harrison Sr. recently called "the most upright citizen I have met in basketball."

Harrison Sr. also formed a close bond with fellow Baltimore native Bino Ranson, the Maryland assistant coach who helped recruit the twins.

Shaquille Cleare is one of the Harrisons' best friends. He's also the Terrapins' top incoming freshman.

Baltimore-based Under Armour, which outfits the Harrisons' AAU team, counts Maryland as its flagship school.

The Terps had a lot going for them.

But, in the end, Calipari won out.

"I think Coach Calipari presented a challenge for us," Andrew Harrison said. "And he told us from day one that it's going to be hard, it's going to be tough, he was going to push us every day. And that's what we really wanted to hear. We just wanted to become better players."

They're already pretty good.

Andrew, rated No. 2 overall by Scout.com, will be the next in Calipari's long line of blue-chip point guards dating to his days at Memphis.

At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he mixes a unique size and strength with traditional point guard qualities.

"The thing I like about Andrew is he plays with such poise and he can do so many things with the ball in his hands," Daniels said. "And I think he's only going to get better when he has significant talent around him. He's so good at creating for others. He's so good at getting in the lane. He's strong. He's athletic. He's a fierce competitor, too. That dude is an intense basketball player.

"He's also a guy that — if you want to take him off the ball and tell him to go get some buckets, he can do that, too. He can do it in a variety of ways. There's a lot to like about Andrew."

Aaron is no slouch, either. The 6-5 shooting guard is ranked No. 3 overall by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

"With Aaron, it's all about scoring and his ability to get points from a number of different levels. Whether it be at the rim, from mid-range, at the three-point line or even well beyond the three-point line," Daniels said. "And he can do all that both off the catch and off the dribble.

"Similar to Andrew, he's so strong and athletic and intense. I think, when Aaron hits the basketball floor, he's got a little fire in his belly. He's playing a tough brand of basketball."

Aaron Harrison said last week in an interview with Scout.com that he and his brother were planning a trip to Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12.

The Harrisons have already visited Kentucky twice, including last year's Madness.

"It was crazy," Andrew said. "As soon as me and Aaron got off the plane, people knew who we were. We were signing autographs, taking pictures with little kids and stuff. We kind of felt like rock stars."

Harrison Sr. told the Herald-Leader earlier this week that a return trip to next week's Madness was a possibility.

If the Harrison family shows up, they won't be alone.

Bullitt East forward Derek Willis, UK's other 2013 commitment, will be there. So will 2013 forward Marcus Lee and 2014 stars Andrew Wiggins, Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle.

Another top-10 recruit from the class of 2013, James Young, could also appear.

Young, a 6-foot-6 wing ranked No. 5 overall by ESPN, visited Lexington just last week.

But Young's godfather, Sean Mahone, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that an official visit for Madness is "a very good possibility."

Daniels said he expected Young and Lee to make their decisions sometime in the next few weeks.

"And I would say Kentucky's probably the leader for James Young," he said.

The other top players on UK's radar are Julius Randle, who some rate as the No. 1 recruit in 2013, and Wiggins, who most think is the best player in all of high school basketball.

Randle tweeted his congratulations to the twins after their decision Thursday.

Wiggins, a candidate to reclassify to 2013, was visited by Calipari at his Huntington, W.Va., high school Thursday night.

If Calipari were able to team up Randle and Wiggins with the Harrison twins?

Look out, says Daniels.

"Put those two dudes on the floor with Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins and you might as well hand Kentucky a national championship."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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