By Connor Letourneau, The Baltimore Sun
7:12 AM EDT, July 17, 2012
Andrew and Aaron Harrison are just 17-year-old high school seniors. They share a room, answer to their father and are still mulling where they want to attend college.
But on Monday night, the Harrisons — the identical twins widely considered first-round locks in the 2014 NBA Draft — didn’t seem like teenage athletes. Playing more than 1,500 miles from their hometown of Richmond, Texas, they were rock stars.
Pockets of red-clad fans wearing Maryland gear gasped with each Harrison dunk, and cheered on the brothers’ Houston Defenders AAU team over the Baltimore Elite. The Defenders secured a 79-66 win at Baltimore City Community College gymnasium.
“If they come, it’ll signal the dawn of a possible new era [of Terps basketball],”said Steve Katz, a 53-year-old Maryland alum who showed up Monday night for a glimpse of the Harrisons.
It’s no understatement.The Harrisons, who have said they are a “package deal,” will likely vault their chosen school into top-five lists for 2013 recruiting classes. Andrew is Ranked No. 3 overall and the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2013. Aaron, meanwhile, is the No. 8 overall recruit and the No. 2 shooting guard.
And on Monday night, they showed why Maryland fans are so excited the brothers currently list the Terps as one of their final five schools (alongside Kentucky, Baylor, Villanova and SMU.
Aaron, the better scorer of the pair, finished with a game-high 35 points. He drove to the basket at will, connecting on double-digit free throw attempts. He hit five 3-pointers, and seemed to have no problem stepping out to NBA range.
Andrew, meanwhile, impressed with his abilities as a facilitator. Although he had a modest 14 points, he finished with a game-high seven assists. He orchestrated a high-powered Defenders offense, finding teammate Derrick Griffin for several highlight-caliber alley-oops.
Of course, Monday night was about far more than the box score. It was about possibility.
After all, the twins could be the greatest brother pairing of all time, and Maryland seems to have more than a fighting chance at landing their services. Their father, Aaron Harrison, Sr., grew up in Baltimore and played at Patterson High School. He is close friends with assistant coach Bino Ranson, and has spoken openly about his fondness for coach Mark Turgeon.
“He’s a great man,” said Aaron Harrison, Sr., who is also the Defenders’ coach. “I reached out to him when Aaron and Andrew were in the ninth grade and he was at Texas A&M. I told him I wanted my kids to be surrounded by quality people, and I thought he was that.”
Andrew and Aaron have toured the Maryland campus three times — often while visiting family in Baltimore — and have come away impressed with the program’s family atmosphere.
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that one of their best friends and former Defenders teammate, Shaquille Cleare, has committed to the Terps.
“He’s been talking to us and he definitely wants us to join him there,” said Andrew Harrison, who will make a joint college decision with his brother on Oct. 28 (their 18th birthday). “But he understands that we have to do what’s best for us. That’s why he’s our friend.”
For all the hoopla and attention the Harrison twins garnered Monday night, they weren’t the only possible Terps on display. Two Baltimore natives, Kameron Williams (Mount St. Joseph) and Daxter Miles (IMG Academy), showed flashes of brilliance and finished with 16 and 10, respectively.
Although they’ve both started accumulating ACC offers, they have yet to hear from the Terps.
But that was hardly their concern Monday night. Despite a valiant effort, they weren’t able to squelch Harrison-mania.
“We always want to come out and defend what’s on the front of the jersey -- ‘Baltimore,’” Williams said. “We always want to protect our territory, and we just weren’t able to do that tonight.”
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