Father of Harrison twins thrilled to have Randle in UK fold

broberts@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2013 

Harrison Twins Kentucky Basketball

Marian Harrison, far right, gave a thumbs up after her twin sons Aaron, second from left, and Andrew Harrison announced Thursday at their high school gym in Richmond, Texas, they will play college basketball for Kentucky. The twins were also joined by their father, Aaron Harrison, left.

DAVID J. PHILLIP — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Less than an hour after Julius Randle committed to Kentucky on Wednesday, future UK father Aaron Harrison Sr. received an incoming call from a familiar phone number.

It was Carolyn Kyles, Randle's mother, and she wanted to let the father of UK signees Andrew and Aaron Harrison know that all of their children would soon be teammates.

The friendly chat didn't fit the story that's been so popular for the last few months. The one that painted Randle and the Harrisons as bitter rivals on the Texas AAU circuit who didn't get along and would never play at the same school.

Apparently, it was all just another tall tale from the recruiting trail.

“The animosity that people try to create – it’s not there. It’s never been there," Harrison Sr. told the Herald-Leader. "They’ve never had adverse words. We won, they won. And I will give Julius credit because we probably won a lot more than they did against each other. He’s never had an adverse word. After the game is over with he always shook hands, said, ‘Yes, sir or no, sir,’ to me. And my kids have a great relationship with his mother. That’s been the case since elementary school.

“I think some other schools made it up to create some kind of rift. I guess it didn’t work.”

After several years of playing against each other in Texas, Randle and the Harrisons will be teammates for the first time.

Harrison Sr. is the coach of his sons' AAU squad and has known Randle since the new UK commitment was 8 years old. He's watched the rivalry between the two sides from a courtside seat, but he said things have always been cordial off the court.

That goes for the families too.

Harrison Sr. said it's been "hurtful" to listen to the narrative that the twins and Randle don't get along. He said the toughest part was knowing that Kyles was also having to hear it.

“When she sees (Aaron and Andrew), they come greet her," he said. "She’s a nice lady, she’s always nice to me. I’ve known her forever and when I see her I walk up to her give her a hug and say, ‘How are you doing, ma’am?’ And that’s the way it works with (Aaron and Andrew) too.”

Harrison Sr. can't wait to see them all wearing the same uniform. He called Randle "a monster" on the court. And the longtime AAU coach added that he's known UK signee Marcus Lee for almost 10 years, and he's been watching UK commitment Dakari Johnson for the last five. He's also been impressed with what he's seen from Derek Willis and what he's heard about James Young.

His expectations for UK's 2013-14 season are simple.

“Winning. Winning a lot. I’m expecting to win a lot,” he said. “I think the one common thing is all of those kids love to win. It’s never been a me-me-me deal. It’s always been, ‘Let’s win.’”

Harrison Sr. -- and just about everyone else -- considered John Calipari's recruiting haul to be "one of the best classes ever" even before the addition of Randle. With Randle, opponents should be on notice. "The game’s changed," he said.

Current UK freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin all pledged to return for another season after Tuesday night's disheartening NIT loss to Robert Morris. Kyle Wiltjer, Ryan Harrow, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson could also be back.

And then there's that group of seven recruits, of which Randle is now a part.

Harrison Sr. sees it as a possible sea change in college basketball.

“One thing it has proven is these kids and families are getting smarter about what they’re doing," he said. "Obviously, people understand that some of these other kids might be coming back. Obviously, people understand that they might not be a featured player (right away). But we get a chance to win. And winning is what counts. Winning and getting better every day.”

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