A throwaway line in a recent blog item by ESPN’s Andy Katz sent some UK fans into a bit of a tizzy earlier this week.
The post was about Dez Wells, but Katz also mentioned a source who told him that top UK targets Andrew and Aaron Harrison would “likely” visit Maryland on Oct. 12 for that school’s midnight madness.
The twins are both ranked as top-five prospects, and they’re undoubtedly UK’s top recruiting priority in the class of 2013. For months, many analysts and fans have considered UK the team to beat.
Does news of a possible madness visit to Maryland change any of that?
Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday night that the visit has yet to be finalized and, even if it is, UK fans don’t necessarily have anything to worry about.
Daniels said it was too early for UK fans to make any judgment based on where and when the twins make their visits.
“I don’t think the situation has changed with the Harrison twins,” he said. “It’s always been Kentucky and Maryland and a couple of other schools involved, but those are the main two. I think Maryland has always had a shot. I think that Kentucky also has a very good shot – if not a better shot. They’re going to take their visits and make their college decision on schedule.”
The Harrisons have maintained that they’ll make that decision in late October and sign with their school of choice in November. In the meantime, it’s only natural that they’ll take visits to some – if not all – of the schools on their list.
Other than UK and Maryland, the twins are also considering SMU, Baylor and Villanova.
While Daniels praised the job that new SMU coach Larry Brown has done recruiting the Harrisons, he said he’d be surprised if the twins end up playing anywhere other than UK or Maryland.
One reason for the anxiety among fans could be the timing.
Maryland’s midnight madness event will be held Oct. 12, which is the same night as UK’s and less than three weeks before the pair’s (somewhat) established decision date of Oct. 29.
Could a big-time event that close to the end of their recruitment have that much of an effect on the outcome? Daniels says probably not.
“Ultimately, are these kids making their college choice on a midnight madness trip or anything like that? I don’t think so,” he said.
Daniels pointed out that Shaquille Cleare, a former teammate of the Harrisons and one of their best friends, is Maryland’s top incoming freshman this season. The twins could be there partly to see him make his first appearance as a college player.
The Harrisons also already visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness last season. Why make a return trip for the same event? With the Cats and Terps solidly established as their top two choices, maybe the twins just want to see what the other school does to tip off its season.
Another reason for the anxiety is UK’s long-perceived standing in the Harrisons’ recruitment. While the twins have been loathe to name an actual “favorite,” those who have dissected their comments have typically concluded that Kentucky is in the best shape.
“The Harrison twins have always had three to five schools and Kentucky’s always been the main one mentioned,” Daniels said. “You read into some of the things they’ve said and you come away thinking, ‘Hey, Kentucky has a great shot here.’ And they do. … I don’t think that’s changed.”
Simply put, Daniels said it was probably always going to come down to Kentucky and Maryland. Now that the twins are in the home stretch of their recruitment, that reality is becoming clear.
Daniels views next month’s trip to Maryland – if it happens – as “just like any other visit.”
And until the Harrisons make an official announcement, Maryland will be right there.
But so will Kentucky.
“I think it’s always been those two. When you interview the Harrison twins, they’re not showing their hand,” Daniels said. “… I think it’s way too early for anybody to call it one way or the other. But, if I was the Kentucky coach, I’d like my positioning.”