Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Harrison Twins Friendly

I had the opportunity to watch the Harrison twins and their Houston Defenders squad take on Baltimore Elite in what was dubbed an "exhibition". Luckily for me and the rest of the spectators, the players treated this like a playoff game and put on an entertaining game. The Defenders pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 79-66, but for most of the game, it was very close.

This game had a ton of Maryland flavor. Of course you had Baltimore Elite, who have Kameron Williams, a Maryland target. But the reason everyone showed up was the Harrisons. And the reason the Harrisons showed up was family. The Harrisons father grew up in Maryland and the majority of the Harrison family still resides in the Baltimore area. The Harrison twins have grown up in Texas their entire life, but Maryland holds a close place to their heart. That is why they were in Baltimore to begin with - to visit family after finishing up a AAU tournament in Philly. They had one day in between to kill before they headed up to Milwaukee so they figured they'd spend a day in Maryland playing basketball.

For Maryland fans, hopefully it is something they can get used to. One thing is for sure, hoops fans in Maryland made a nice showing, flooding the community college gym to capacity. The Harrisons surely noticed the dearth of diehard basketball fans that infest the city of Baltimore. The Crimestopper, Aquille Carr, is already and city legend and Maryland would more than welcome perhaps the best package deal in the history of recruiting.

The other thing Maryland has going for them in this recruiting war with Kentucky, SMU, Villanova, and Baylor is Coach Turg. Rarely could a Maryland fan say this in the days of Gary Williams when going after a top recruit. While Gary was a likeable coach, he was never on the top of the list for any big name prospect. Turgeon on the otherhand, started recruiting the Harrison twins early when they were both in Texas. Turgeon was coaching Texas A&M at the time his recruit Tobi Oyedeji died. The way he handled that situation behind the scenes caught the twins father's attention and earned Turgeon lifelong respect from the family.

It may be the perfect storm for Terp fans now, with both the local connection and Turgeon connection. Its almost like they have the Harrisons cornered. Maryland has to share the favorite spot along with Kentucky, who will always be a serious threat. The twins often cite their desire to go to a program that can prepare them for the NBA and Calipari does it like no other. However, the twins will have no problem making the league with or without UK. In fact, they may be better off staying away from the dribble drive offense.

And since there are two players in this deal, they both need to be sure they will get 30+ minutes a game and start. I imagine they can do that at any program, but Maryland is much more of a sure deal than Kentucky. At Maryland, the Harrison twins will be able to fully lead the team just like theyve done throughout their high school careers. Another underrated fact is that their AAU teammate, Shaquille Cleare has already committed to Maryland and will be playing this season for the Terps. They have a good relationship and that should be another added bonus to coming to College Park.

I have managed to take myself into Maryland being the favorites, and while I am biased, I think it all adds up. And as Connor Letourneau pointed out over at The Baltimore Sun, the twins are always quick to mention Maryland when listed the teams they are interested in. I would give Maryland at least a 50% shot to get the twins. Call me hopeful.

And hopeful definitely could be the word because what I saw against Baltmore Elite was nothing short of perfection. I put off writing this article because there was literally nothing bad I could say about the twins. They play off each other perfectly - Andrew being the passer and Aaron the shooter. They have legit size at a near 6'5'' and are well built. They have range out to the 3-pt line and make everything look so effortless. Then there is the great court vision. The competitiveness. In this exhibition, they played all out and showed a great will to win. They were professional with the officials, looking much like a NBA player. When a call occurred they didn't like, you could see Aaron walk away, breath deeply, and then go talk to the ref quietly during the free throws. They play like NBA guys already. And while they would be a great get for Maryland, they won't be in college for long. Andrew especially could challenge first a top 5 pick.

Aaron had 35 points before the night was over while Andrew dropped 14 points and 7 dimes.

Kameron Williams is on the Baltimore Elite team, a guy who I recently saw at the Nike Global Challenge. He had 16 points in the game, but was kept quiet in the second half after the Defenders draped a bigger man on him who was about 5 inches taller. Kameron fought tirelessly around ball screens trying to get open, but he struggled to get shots off in the second half. His effort was enough to draw a few fouls, but when he isn't getting open looks at the basket, he isn't a big help. It surprised me that he didnt defend the Harrison twins much at all.

Jamel Artis, who is down to LaSalle and Pittsburgh, was very impressive to me compared to his 74 grade on ESPN. He has great size for a small forward, and really could play power forward at a school like LaSalle. He is strong and not afraid of the post, but in this game he tried to do too much off the dribble. He does have some handles, but he appears to be a big man transitioning to the perimeter. He has natural playmaking skills and I think he will make the transition to full time small forward, but he needs to stay within himself. I was first drawn to him after he made a sick move to free himself up and then stopped to pull up for the mid-range jumper. The presence of a mid-range jumper at this stage is big for him. It could be his bread and butter in college. Pittsburgh is smart for offering him and he would fit in very well there.

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