BALTIMORE — Aaron and Andrew Harrison, twin brothers from Fort Bend, Tex., are perhaps the most highly regarded package deal college basketball has ever seen. Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon has made them the centerpiece of his recruiting efforts this year, a task made harder because the Harrisons are also considering Kentucky, Baylor, Villanova and SMU.
Considered two of the country’s top 10 prospects in the class of 2013, according to every major recruiting entity, they form a physical back court — Andrew is the point guard, Aaron is the shooting guard — that plays with a swagger born from a saying their father, Aaron Sr., learned growing up in Baltimore: “We are the bullies. We don’t get bullied.”
They’ve shared a room at home since birth and never thought of going to college at different schools. Whatever program lands them when they make a decision on Oct. 28 — their birthday — will instantly see their recruiting class become one of the best in the country.
So it was no surprise Monday night at Baltimore Community College that a crowd of about 400, many clad in Maryland gear, treated the twins like rock stars when they came to Baltimore to play in front of their extended family in an exhibition game.
“We try to be kids as much as we can, but everyone likes attention. Everyone likes eyes on them,” Aaron Harrison said. “You just have to perform on the court and live up to the expectations.”
This basketball journey started on the football-crazy fields of Texas, where Aaron was a star quarterback and Andrew played running back. But once their father started an Amateur Athletic Union team full of football players and both sons grew to 6 feet 5 inches, it became clear their futures lay on the hardwood.
Andrew Harrison said their dynamic on the court developed “naturally” as he took on the role of facilitator and Aaron became the scorer. He equated the relationship to two equally important pieces of a puzzle.
“Everything about them is different,” said Aaron Harrison Sr., who coaches his sons as part of the Houston Defenders AAU program. “How they play is different. How they walk is different. How they talk is different. They’re just totally different people. The skill level, I think, is equal, but Andrew’s mentality is just to get everybody involved and Aaron’s mentality is to get buckets, so that works great together.”
Maryland is very much in the picture for the talented guards, for a number of reasons.
Aaron Harrison, Sr., starred at Patterson High in Baltimore before joining the military and moving to Texas, and his “entire family” still lives in the area. Meanwhile, former Houston Defenders teammate and friend Shaquille Cleare will be a freshman at Maryland this year, a commitment Aaron, Sr., called “very influential” in his sons’ decision-making process.
Aaron Harrison said the biggest points of emphasis for him and his brother are finding a school with a family atmosphere and a style of play “that’s gonna get me to the NBA.”
No factor, however, weighs more heavily than Aaron Sr.’s respect for Turgeon, who has been recruiting Aaron and Andrew since his days at Texas A&M. It dates to Turgeon’s treatment of former Aggies recruit Tobi Oyedeji, who died in a car accident in May 2010.
“He did some things behind the scenes that he doesn’t want anybody to know. It was really a stand-up kind of moment for me,” Aaron Sr. said. “That way I knew, even at A&M, if I sent my kids to him, he would take care of them.”
His two sons were offering few hints as to whether that relationship will eventually make them Terrapins. After Monday’s game, both Aaron and Andrew barely flinched as they were flocked by autograph seekers campaigning on behalf of Maryland.
They, like the college basketball world, can only hope at this point.
“I really can’t worry about them,” Andrew Harrison said. “The most important thing is what’s best for me and Aaron, not really what everybody else wants me to do.”