Impressing Mom is priority No. 1 with the Harrisons

 Posted by at 6:18 PM on September 11, 2012
Sep 112012

Aaron Harrison (pictured) and his brother Andrew are expected to choose a school sometime next month.
Photo: Houston Chronicle

John Calipari and his assistants set foot in the Texas home of Aaron and Andrew Harrison for the first time Sunday.

But impressing the twin superstars wasn’t the No. 1 priority.

“They really got a chance to talk to my wife and that’s probably the most important thing they got to do,” said Aaron Harrison Sr, the players’ father. “They met her face to face and she laid eyes on them and got to make sure they could take care of her children.”

When it comes to recruiting, winning over Mrs. Harrison is at the top of the list. And Aaron Harrison Sr. said his wife’s input will have nothing to do with basketball.

The elder Harrison said his wife “doesn’t care about basketball at all.” He estimated that his sons had played about 100 games per season over the past five years and, of those, “she’s probably been to eight games total.”

“It’s more about how people treat Aaron and Andrew on the court and how they heckle them. She really can’t handle that. She doesn’t like that, so she doesn’t attend.”

But she has played an active role in her sons’ recruitment.

Baylor also met with the twins Sunday, and Maryland visited the family Monday. SMU and Villanova, the other two schools on their list, will be making their pitch in the near future.

Harrison Sr. said that his wife, who’s usually “quiet and reserved” when it comes to basketball, was a driving force in the meetings with coaches.

“She told every coach in there that she could care less if they ever pick up a ball again,” he said. “Education and safety are very important to her.

“She has had her conversations with Kenny Payne about those being our babies and what she is expecting if they were to come there. … But that’s the first time she’s had a chance to tell the head coaches exactly how she felt about that.”

But it wasn’t her first experience with Kentucky basketball. The Harrisons have already visited Lexington twice, including last year for Big Blue Madness.

While most of the recruits in town for that event were 2012 prospects taking their official visits, the Harrisons paid their own way.

Harrison Sr. owns a car lot and said he’s “blessed to be financially stable,” and in a position to pay for his sons’ recruiting visits. He also said the family “really enjoyed” the madness trip to UK despite missing out on some of the perks.

“We couldn’t do some things (the other recruits) got to do, because they were on (an official) visit,” he said. “The coach’s house and horse races and things like that. But that’s how it goes. We enjoyed it. We just did it in a little different way.”

But that will be the family’s last trip to Lexington, unless, of course, the twins commit to Kentucky. After two visits, Harrison Sr. knows “all I need to know” about UK.

In fact, the Harrisons haven’t planned any more visits to any of the schools on their list, though they haven’t ruled out a few more trips.

ESPN reported last week that the twins were “likely” to visit Maryland on Oct. 12 for that school’s midnight madness event.

It turns out that was a bit premature.

“The only thing I’ve done is I’ve asked somebody, ‘When is their midnight madness?’ That was it,” he said. “And I never told anyone we were going. … It’s not a done deal, but I’m definitely not saying that we’re not (going). It’s a possibility.”

Harrison said the possible Maryland trip isn’t the only misconception out there about his sons’ recruitment.

First, they don’t have a decision date set in stone. There has been a lot of buzz around their birthday (Oct. 29) as the day when the twins will announce. But Harrison Sr. said it could be well before then, or well after.

“That deadline is something me and them discussed. If they decide that they don’t want to stick to it, I don’t care,” he said.

And as far as UK being the leader, well, that’s not necessarily the case either.

“There’s no conversation from anybody named Harrison that says, ‘this school is the leader,'” he said. “Until then, you’re wasting your time.”

Harrison jokingly attributed UK’s status as runaway frontrunner to “too many websites.” But he also said the way his sons present themselves has played a part in the speculation.

By not naming any favorites but praising the schools on their list, the Harrisons have left a lot of room for discussion. And, for months, most of that discussion has concluded that UK is the team to beat.

Since they’ve never gone out of their way to seek coverage or squash rumors, that thought has spread.

Don’t expect the Harrisons to change their approach in the final weeks of their recruitment.

“We’re not the family that needs the attention,” Harrison Sr. said. “I’ve never once put anything on YouTube about them. They’ve never once put anything on YouTube about themselves. They’ve done no self-promotion. That’s not the kind of men I’m raising. That’s not how it works at my house.”

But, make no mistake, UK continues to be a major player (if not the outright favorite) in the effort to land the twins.

Harrison Sr. said Calipari touted his program’s commitment to education, especially among former players who go on to the NBA but return to work on their degrees. And the UK coach assured Mrs. Harrison that he would be “protective” of the twins and treat them “like they’re his own.”

Harrison Sr. also said that Calipari put a little spin on his regular recruiting line that Kentucky “isn’t for everybody.”

“He said ‘It’s not for everybody … but I’m sure it’s for you all.'”


  17 Responses to “Impressing Mom is priority No. 1 with the Harrisons”

  1. Once again, I’m not with BBN here when we all say we are the outright favorite in this recruitment. Papa H, again, says that nobody is the fav but we in BBN consistently say we lead. How is that the case? They get asked about us all the time, so they answer questions. Hope I’m wrong here, but I feel like they have always been leaning towards going to play in front of their family in Maryland.

  2. To be clear, I’ve never met the Harrisons. I do, however, have a friend that knows Aaron Harrison Sr, though he doesn’t know him well. He told me three or four months ago that whatever else their father may be, he’s a businessman first and foremost who’s looking out for his sons. You’d probably say, “Well duh! That’s what a parent is supposed to do!” And you’d be right. But it also tells us something about how the Harrisons may approach this decision. Yes, they have family in the Baltimore area. And yes, there is undoubtedly an Under Armour influence pulling towards Maryland. But if you’re looking at a college choice purely (or even mostly) as a business decision, do you conclude that you can maximize your chances of success (i.e., as high as possible in the NBA draft) at Maryland or Kentucky? At least in that scenario, I would have to feel awfully good if I were Kentucky.

  3. I agree with the first commenter about the Harrison twins and the favorite being Maryland because of the family they have in Maryland along with a former AAU buddy that plays for the Terps this coming season. The harrisons have an excellent relationship with Mark Turgeon the head coach at Maryland. I really want them to come to the Bluegrass and they may but KY may be second in line. I think Calipari has put all his eggs into the Harrisons basket and may have to hustle to just get a top 40 PG+SG. Its likely that Harrow will go to the NBA after this coming season. Im sorry to say that CAL may not get 1 top ten recruit from the 2013 class, although i hope im wrong. There is some hope for Young or Randle but Duke+UNC have a great shot at Randle and watch out for Michigan St. and James Young.4

  4. @bmt see this is where it gets a little fishy. Yes, I LIKE our chances if its strictly a business decision in the short term. More exposure here, but these kids are different it seems like, always seem to have a chip on their shoulder. THIS scares me, because I think they might see UA (Maryland) as a better business decision. Lets face it, they aren’t going to be getting their own shoe thru Nike! But at Under Armour, they might be the face of that company. Yes, its a small company and in NO WAY near Nike’s level but its something to think about. I want this over quickly either way so we can gloat or go to plan B

  5. Yeah, business decision. But, what if the better decision isn’t Kentucky? Like Cats said, UA is a big time obstacle. Most people realize that even the players with huge contracts with their team can often make much more with other companies. Michael Jordan helped make Nike the absolute power it is today. Could the Twins conceivably do the same for UA? Can you imagine the great promos they could have with those kids? Nike wont need them for that as they’ll still have Durant and Lebron for years. I’m saying right now it is 45/45 Kentucky and Maryland with the other 10 being split between the other 3.

  6. I’m officially worried.

  7. Who are the next best uncommitted guards?

  8. Lol why are people worried? They’re coming to UK.

  9. Cats get:

    Harrison Twins
    Julius Randle
    Andrew Wiggins
    James Young

    to go along with Willis. i am not the least bit worried and feel more confidernt with this class than any of cal’s previous. This one’s going to be a show stopper!!!

  10. I’m so impressed with Harrison Sr., probably more so than the twins. The twins are very lucky to have a dad [and mom] like that. You can tell by reading his quotes that he’s quite smart and can’t be fooled. It’s obvious he had a great upbringing as well. Regardless of where the twins go, they’ll be super successful in basketball and in life in general. How many other top recruits have that sort of support network?

  11. The Harrison twins have just as good a chance of selecting Maryland as any schools on the list. Going the College Park makes much more sense. They would be the faces of the program instead of being just other good players on the team, they have family in Maryland, Papa Harrison love Coach Turgeon and their good friend Baby Shaq already plays for the Terps.

    Sorry Cats fans. The Harrison twins are going to wear the red of the University of Maryland in college.

  12. ky is basketball royalty but these 2 kids could go to east carolina or long island u. and be top 5 picks in the nba draft. the father likes turgeon a lot as a coach and a man. the father is best friend’s with md assit. bino ranson. the father is from baltimore where the grandparents still live and shaq cleare md freshman was teammates of the twins in aau ball which the twins father was the coach.

  13. Harrison family goes way back with Turgeon and even more way back with Bino at U Maryland. Grandparents want to see kids play. Would be very very suprised if they end up anywhere else except Maryland.

  14. I am impressed with the values and “cool levelheadedness” of the parents. I would guess these two young men will be successes in college and successes in life. I wish them all the best, WHEREVER they wind up. I think UK would be fortunate to land these two, in more ways than one. I’m a UK fan morning noon and night, and I hope the twins end up at UK, but I do not worry about it. Calipari is a superb recruiter and an outstanding coach, and I think UK will once again have an outstanding season. I enjoy watching UK play night in and night out, year in and year out. This may surprise you, but I ALSO enjoy watching UL basketball games. imho, too many “UK Fans” and not enough “Basketball Fans” (also true for any other school in the country). I am STILL angry about THAT ’92 Duke-UK game, and still despise Christian Laettner for intentionally stepping on a UK player (Timberlake), and I don’t care if it has been over 20 years now.

  15. It’ll be a shock if they end up anywhere but UK. Everyone knows how the basketball team is treated in Lexington. Add the business side. How many nationally televised games does UMaryland have next year? They can still watch them play every game at UK, because UK is shown nationally more than any other college b-ball team.

  16. Twins will attend Maryland and it will be a decision based on family and UA. GO CATS!

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