Signing the Harrison Twins Could Have Lasting Effects on Maryland’s Re-Emergence

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 4th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Even in this high-profile one-and-done era, where most top-tier prospects make their ultimate decisions not in the pursuit of the best four-year student athlete experience possible but to maximize NBA draft stock, the increasing preparedness of elite recruits to make immediate impacts has raised the stakes as coaches search for talents to elevate their teams and change their programs’ trajectories. There was no better example of this phenomenon than in 2011-12, when John Calipari took an insanely-talented 2011 recruiting class – led by otherworldly front court maestro Anthony Davis, hyper-intense perimeter dynamo Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and quick-learning point guard Marquis Teague – molded its star power around a host of savvy role players (and first-round pick Terrence Jones), crafted a coherent and disciplined unit, and surged to a 38-2 record and his first national championship. These weren’t your average freshmen; Calipari’s coup may go down as the most talented recruiting class since Michigan’s Fab Five outfit. But across the nation, each class’s blue chip prospects are increasingly entering the college game with a greater potential for immediate contribution, often in major and lasting ways. Kentucky’s title season – which officially debunked the age-old myth that one-and-done players didn’t have the intangibles to withstand pressure-packed NCAA Tournament games – paired three top-10 players with a coach well-versed in the sort of ego-grooming and steadfast discipline required to overcome any freshmen transitional issues. The match of immense talent and coaching acumen was practically seamless. Not every elite recruiting haul reaches that level of success that quickly. Freshmen talent, however large or promising the selection, does not equal championships, at least not right away.

If the Harrisons choose Maryland, it could propel Maryland’s rise to ACC and national contention (Photo credit:

That’s the motivation fueling the enormous hype surrounding the recruitment of Andrew and Aaron Harrison, two top-five players in the class of 2013 who have been open about their intentions to attend the same program and thus form, in recruiting parlance, perhaps the best “package deal” in college hoops recruiting history. Left in the running for the twins, who plan to announce their decision tonight at 5 PM ET, are Kentucky and Maryland, with SMU coming in at a distant (I repeat: distant) third. For the reasons I mentioned above, and a host of other enticing qualities, Calipari’s involvement is hardly shocking. Maryland’s courtship hinges on a spate of various connections: namely, Aaron Harrison, Sr.’s, Baltimore childhood and relationships with program staffers along with the twins’ longstanding association with Under Armour and the corporate bridge it constructs between their UA-backed AAU team and the Terrapins. Though Calipari has rarely missed out on a recruit(s) he set his sights on, the Harrisons and their sheltering father have shielded their preferences internally. Neither program would be a surprise. Whoever the victor, the on-court benefits are fairly straightforward: two transcendent backcourt pieces brimming with potential and promise. For Kentucky, wrapping up Harrison-squared would be business as usual, par for the course in Calipari’s recruiting history. But for Maryland, the potential long-term implications of landing two NBA-bound basketball destroyers-of-worlds, at least from a reputation standpoint, are positively transformative.

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Conflicting Reports on Harrison Twins Triggers Fan Disagreement

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 25th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

If you’ve never heard the names Andrew or Aaron Harrison, know this: They might be the best package deal in the history of modern basketball recruiting. Better than the Wear twins at UNC (now at UCLA), better than the Morris twins at Kansas; better than the Lopez twins at Stanford. Yes, the Harrison twins are elite talents who will have lasting impacts on the school that wins the intense bidding war for their services. As of this writing, three programs are in the mix – Kentucky, SMU and Maryland. It’s an eclectic group, but it requires no amount of in-depth background research to make sense of the twins’ final candidates. The Harrisons reside in Richmond, Texas, which makes their inclusion of SMU – a burgeoning program reinvigorated by its recent hiring of Hall of Famer Larry Brown, one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and its impending move to the Big East – completely reasonable. Maryland’s courtship hinges on two elements. The first is Aaron Harrison, Sr., who grew up in Baltimore, played basketball at nearby Patterson High School and is close friends with Terrapins assistant coach Bino Ranson. The second is coach Mark Turgeon, who recruited the Harrisons while he was at Texas A&M before accepting his current position at Maryland. As for Kentucky, well, at this stage of his tenure, John Calipari’s program essentially recruits itself. The Harrisons are expected to announce their decision on October 29, but with various information leaks and contradicting reports from different outlets, the speculative message board war has already begun in earnest.

The Harrisons are two of the top players in 2013 (Photo credit:

On Saturday, ZagsBlog author Adam Zagoria cited an unnamed source “close to the recruitment” who characterized a difference of opinion on choice between the twins and their father. According to the source, the twins prefer Kentucky, while Aaron, Sr., hopes his sons end up at Maryland. In today’s world of college basketball recruiting, where fan bases frenetically scour national scouting sites, high school and grassroots leagues in the pursuit of knowledge about their programs’ targeted prospects, this kind of news – particularly when it comes in regard to a pair of players as talented and promising as the Harrison twins – sparked a firestorm of digital back-and-forth between rival supporters. A report from amplified the ordeal with quotes from dad, who denied Zagoria’s claim and clarified his position. “Aaron and Andrew Harrison haven’t made a decision, and I want whatever they want for themselves,” he said. “Whatever they want is what I want.” Neutrality, at least from my distant vantage point, seems the more plausible scenario. Even if the twins’ father is partial to Maryland – a likely preference, given his history, ties to the area and relationships with coaches – it stands to reason that the Harrison twins, blue-chip prospects of their own making, would have more influence over their college choice than their father does. But my opinion doesn’t matter. Kentucky fans have already made up their mind. And as you might expect, they fully believe this is a one-horse race, one in which coach John Calipari has already vanquished all competition. UK blogger Truzenuzex at A Sea of Blue puts nail to head:

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