Another ESPNU news conference, another NBA-bound basketball recruit — or, in this case, two top-rated recruits — another briefly tense moment for fans, another recruiting victory for John Calipari. It’s practically clockwork.
Aaron and Andrew Harrison – twins, backcourt mates, the top-rated shooting guard and point guard in the class of 2013, respectively, and the “best package deal in the history of college hoops recruiting,” as ESPN’s Dave Telep called them — had entered the day with recruitniks essentially split on their potential choices.
Kentucky was always tough to beat, of course, but Maryland had all the connections. Earlier this week, Aaron Harrison Sr. sang the praises of Under Armour representative Chris Hightower to USA Today – the only person he allowed direct access to his sons, he said — for his tact throughout the recruiting process. The Harrison twins’ AAU team was sponsored by the sudden grassroots power, whose founder and CEO is Maryland alumnus Kevin Plank; they wore Under Armour uniforms and Under Armour shoes. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon began recruiting the twins when he was still coaching at Texas A&M; Harrison Sr. said Turgeon was the “most upright citizen I have ever met in basketball.” Maryland assistant Bino Ranson and Harrison Sr. were likewise close.
[Mark Cornelison/Getty ImagesCutting down the nets has only increased John Calipari’s ability to entice recruits.
In the end, not a lick of it mattered. Not after Calipari coached the top two picks in the draft, and sent six players in on one night, and not after his players — from Anthony Davis to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Brandon Knight to John Wall to DeMarcus Cousins to Tyreke Evans to Derrick Rose — have utterly dominated the highest reaches of the NBA selection process for the past five years. Not with Calipari’s close connections to William “Worldwide” Wesley, and rappers Jay-Z and Drake, still fresh on every recruit’s mind.
Not now, not mere months after Calipari cut down his first national title nets with one of the most talented teams in recent college hoops history.
“We wanted to go some place we could win,” Aaron Harrison, stiff in his suit and tie, said to the ESPNU cameras. “We knew we could win as soon as we got there.”
Here’s a scary thought: For as well as Calipari has recruited in the past five years — for as good as his classes (ranked No. 1 from 2009-2011, and No. 2 in 2012) have been — he may now just be arriving at the peak of his powers. (The Harrison twins, dynamic forces each to their own, practically guarantee one of the best, if not the best, recruiting classes in 2013-14. And he still has more work left to do.)
After April, Calipari isn’t merely offering the NBA and the chance to meet Jay-Z, as if that wasn’talready enough. Now he has the national title. Now he has proven his hyper-accelerated one-and-done blueprint can work. Now he’s shown that the best players in the country really can have it all: immediate success; national title shots; the adoration of the nation’s most insane fan base; and, after all that, the end result of NBA riches. At UK, Calipari says, there is no need to trade any of it off. And he’s right.
That Maryland went toe-to-toe with this monolithic machine and nearly emerged victoriouscounts as a victory in and of itself. Terrapins fans desperate for a rebirth under Turgeon won’t like to hear that, I’m sure. But it’s true.
Because right now, nobody beats Kentucky for recruits. All your stars are belong to Cal. Resistance is futile. Year in and year out, from now until Calipari decides to do something different with his life, Kentucky is going to keep getting the best players in the country, keepchurning out teams that defend like crazy, and keep challenging for national titles. Like clockwork.
I will never sugarcoat it. It’s plain and simple–Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson have done everything humanly possible to land the twins. Why? Because Turgeon knows that added to the existing players that will be at Maryland next year, the addition of Andrew and Aaron will elevate this team into the top reaches of the NCAA. That’s a fact. Not based on film but based on talent. Andrew is the number 1 prospect in the nation but mark my words, brother Aaron is the best 2 guard I have seen come into the NCAA ever. There will be no bridge jumping by me if we lose the twins to Calipari but I will be sick because they belong at Maryland. That’s my take.
Terrapin times Dan Painter, the most knowledgeable reporter on Maryland basketball recruiting will be on Terp Talk tomorrow discussing the Twins’ decision.
Come Thursday night, either Kentucky or Maryland will have the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the country.
That is the day the Andrew and Aaron Harrison will announce their college decision. Rumors had surfaced throughout Monday that a decision could be coming this week, but Andrew seemed to confirm it via Twitter.
“Thursday will be the toughest decision I ever had to make but I’m looking forward to it”
Andrew, a 6-foot-5 point guard, is ranked as the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2013, while Aaron, a 6-foot-5 scorer, is slotted behind him at No. 4. The two are supremely talented, and are capable of going on dominant stretches.
Kentucky was long thought to be the favorite for the twins, but Maryland closed the gap in a major way over the past couple of months. It’s at the point right now where the decision could be too close to call. Kentucky is Kentucky, but Maryland has the Under Armour angle — the twins played on the Houston Defenders, an Under Armour-sponsored AAU team — and the Harrisons also have family ties to the area.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison have a different opinion than their father on where they should go to college, a Division 1 source close to the recruitment told SNY.tv. “The boys want to go to Kentucky, the dad wants them to go to Maryland,” the source said. “The dad’s from there. He and [Maryland coach] Mark Turgeon have known each other a long time since Mark’s days at Texas A&M. But the boys want to go to Kentucky.” The source added: “I think the boys will win out. If they can be first, if nobody will commit to Kentucky first, I think the boys will go to Kentucky. The dad favors his hometown.”
from insidemdsports.com Aaron Harrison Sr responded:
“That’s just [the reporter of the story] doing his thing. I’d talked to him one time a few months ago and he re-worded what I said and took it all out of context in his article, so I don’t talk to him anymore. Maybe that’s why he had to write something. He makes up things and runs with them for attention,” Harrison said.
While Kentucky and Maryland are widely believed to be the favorites for the Harrisons, according to many the top-ranked point and shooting guard in the country, they’ve kept tight control of information relating to their recruitment – so much so that well-placed analysts and college recruiters still seem largely in the dark as to where they’ll end up.
Although it’s been a high-profile recruitment for more than two years, information leaks have been virtually non-existent because the elder Harrison has steadfastly refused to reveal any intimate details of their thought process to anyone outside of his immediate family.
“Here’s the thing. He can say it’s an unnamed source, but I promise you there’s no sources with us. Unless you’re me, my wife, Aaron or Andrew, or their grandparents, you’re not going to have anything to say because no one else knows about our confidential discussions. And my wife and our parents haven’t talked to anyone about it. I changed the kids’ numbers, so the two coaches have their number and no one else calls,” he said.
But Turgeon didn’t sign Xavier’s top returning scorer to have him for this season. It would be a nice bonus, but it’s not a necessity.
Turgeon said he has tried to balance the classes at his previous stops at Wichita State and Texas A&M, adding four-year transfers along the way.
“What we’ve tried to do is sprinkle in good freshmen with transfers,” he said. “It’s an avenue I’ve taken with every program. Is it something we’ll do every year? I doubt it.”
Turgeon’s plan is to always have a scholarship or two open for transfers like Smotrycz and/or Wells.
“At this level you have to do that,” he said. “Ideally, you want to keep one open for situations like this. It’s a lot easier to keep 10 or 11 players happy on scholarship and redshirt a few more.”
The Terrapins needed a slasher, defender and player who would be interchangeable for 2013 — and Wells was an Atlantic 10 rookie first-team member a year ago, averaging 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Turgeon said the Class of 2013 isn’t deep on the perimeter, and the Terps are realistic as to what they can get to make them better. Having Wells on the court in 2013-14 likely is an upgrade from the high schooler they could grab at that swing position.
Don’t sell Maryland short on the recruiting front, though. Turgeon is still trying to land two of the top four prizes in the class in Andrew and Aaron Harrison, a pair of perimeter players who said they will attend the same school. The Harrison twins are likely going to College Park for Midnight Madness on Oct. 12, according to a source. But Maryland will have to beat out Kentucky to land the pair from Texas, which would be a monumental task. Villanova, SMU and Baylor are also in the mix.
Turgeon has landed elite players so far: Nick Faust last year and Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman this year. Turgeon also brought in an assistant with deep DC-Baltimore ties in Dalonte Hill.
So what will the Terps look like on the court?
Assuming Wells doesn’t gain immediate eligibility, UM will have 10 players to use this season. So Turgeon is being careful with his optimistic outlook. He said Cleare and Layman have had very good summers, as has Faust and shooting guard Seth Allen. He said 7-foot-1 center Alex Len has gained a much-needed 20 pounds.
“I like the work habits,” said Turgeon, whose Terps began workouts on Tuesday. “The chemistry is really good. It has been a pleasant surprise that we’ve been better than anticipated.”
Does that translate into an upper-division finish in the ACC? The three Triangle schools — North Carolina, Duke and NC State — likely will jockey with Florida State for spots 1 through 4.
But Maryland, Miami and Virginia should be in the next tier as teams that can contend for an NCAA tournament bid. And if Wells does get eligible? Look out.
Turgeon took a chance on Wells considering the allegations and the on-court suspension. But adding a quality player from a high-profile school is the norm for him and plenty of others.
Programs like Kentucky, Duke and UNC have all had transfers recently. That’s the new norm in order to keep up. Blending the classes with transfers and high school seniors is now expected.
The bottom line is that Turgeon has Maryland relevant and in the news, which isn’t easy to do in a conference dominated by a pair of blue-blooded giants.
Williams knew this all too well during his career. Turgeon is following his blueprint as best as possible early on.
The Harrison Twins will announce Oct. 29 at Fort Bend (Texas) High School,Andrew Harrisonconfirmed to SNY.tv Monday night. The news was first reported via Twitter by Nick Jones. Aaron and Andrew Harrison are considering Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, Villanova and SMU and recently told SNY.tv they are hearing the most from three of those schools. “Baylor, Kentucky and Maryland, they pretty much contact us on a weekly basis,”Aaron Harrison Jr. said at the Big Strick Classic in New York.