Kentucky basketball recruiting: Harrisons, Randle insist feud rumor is way off base

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 1, 2013 

  • Wednesday

    McDonald's All-American Game

    Where: United Center in Chicago

    Girls: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

    Boys: 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

CHICAGO — Aaron Harrison frowned and shook his head when the subject came up. Julius Randle just looked at the floor and chuckled.

Nobody knows where it all got started. Randle and the Harrison twins just want it to go away.

The trio of McDonald's All-Americans will be teammates next season at Kentucky. But they've spent the past few months hearing and reading about how they were engaged in a bitter feud. Three Texas superstars on two sides of the ball with the one certainty being that they would never play for the same school.

There was zero truth to any of it, they say.

"That was a terrible rumor," Aaron Harrison told the Herald-Leader. "It's always been a lie."

There's no doubt the Harrisons and Randle have been longtime rivals. They started playing AAU ball against each other in the fourth grade, and there were many matchups along the way. The Harrison twins represented the Houston Defenders, while Randle played for the Texas Titans.

On the Lonestar State summer circuit, the stakes were high.

"Me and Aaron, most people think of us as arrogant or whatever. Like hotheads on the court," Andrew Harrison said. "But I just think we're focused kids and we want to win at all times. We've been playing against Julius since fourth grade. We had battles with him. I guess when you see us play, we talked a little trash. But Julius is a really good friend of mine."

According to all involved, any animosity stayed between the baselines.

The Harrisons were two of the first people to wish Randle well when he broke his foot early in the season, and were again quick to congratulate him on committing to Kentucky last month.

Randle said he recently sat at the dinner table with his mother, wondering how it all got started.

"It was just kind of funny," he said. "I don't know who started that rumor. I've been playing against them since the fourth grade. We've never had any type of beef, so it was hilarious to me. But, whatever. It doesn't matter."

All three are ready to turn the page and looking forward to being teammates for the first time after playing against each other for so many years.

In an interview with ESPN earlier this year, Randle was asked what player from the class of 2013 he'd most like to play with in college. The answer was Andrew Harrison.

"A point guard makes life a lot easier, and he's a great point guard," Randle said Sunday night. "He'll be great for our team, because he'll make life a lot easier for everybody. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Andrew Harrison says he tried not to pay attention to the recruitments of other elite players in the class. His feeling was that they would make the best decision for themselves, and they didn't need anyone else putting pressure on them.

But the future UK point guard said he saw the interview where Randle gave him a shout-out. He couldn't help but smile.

"I just had a smile on my face," he said. "I felt like — him being a great player and saying that about me — it was an honor."

Gordon to name his school

Top 10 recruit Aaron Gordon will announce his college decision Tuesday, but the McDonald's All-American says he's already told one lucky coach the news.

Gordon, a 6-foot-8 forward, has narrowed his list to four finalists: Kentucky, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. The San Jose, Calif., native said Monday that he actually made his decision four weeks ago and has already committed to a school.

Few — if any — recruiting analysts are predicting Kentucky.

Gordon plans to announce his decision during McDonald's media day festivities, which begin at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Cheers for Cauley-Stein

The McDonald's All-Americans were in the middle of practice when news broke that Willie Cauley-Stein would return to Kentucky for a sophomore season.

When practice was over, word quickly spread.

"That's great. That's good news," Andrew Harrison said. "Willie is a great athlete. He just has to get a little bit more focus, so I'm going to try to do that."

As the probable starting point guard, it will be Harrison's job to make sure everybody meshes on the court. He's looking forward to adding Cauley-Stein to the mix of five-star recruits UK has coming in.

Harrison said he has no problem telling older players what to do on the court. But first, they have to be willing to listen.

"I know I have to go in there and prove myself," he said. "You have to earn respect, so I'm going to have to go in there and earn it."

Wiggins watch

The No. 1 prospect in high school basketball was his usual quiet self when it came to questions about his recruitment Monday. Andrew Wiggins said several times that he has no idea when he's going to announce his college destination, which will be either Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina or Kansas.

"I'll do it when I'm ready," he said.

No love for the Cards

Andrew Harrison was halfway correct when it came to his Final Four picks. Harrison said he had Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana advancing in his bracket. The Buckeyes and Hoosiers didn't make it, but the future UK star seemed more upset over one of his predictions that came true.

"I hope Michigan wins, because I hate Louisville," he said.

Injury update

UK signee James Young missed most of Monday's practice after he was accidentally elbowed in the hip by Aaron Gordon. Young was not slated to participate in any of Monday night's skills events and said he should be ready to go Tuesday.

Fellow signee Marcus Lee also sat out part of Monday's practice. The 6-10 forward said his back tightened up. "It happens sometimes." He also expects to be OK for Tuesday's practice.


Wednesday

McDonald's All-American Game

Where: United Center in Chicago

Girls: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

Boys: 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

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

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