Much has been made of the relationship between Julius Randle and the Harrison twins.
We know they’ve been rivals since early in their basketball careers, when they played the first of many games against each other on the Texas AAU circuit. There have been several stories suggesting that Randle and the twins don’t get along, although all three players have repeatedly denied it.
Earlier this season, Randle’s longtime AAU coach Scott Pospichal talked to the Herald-Leader about the dynamic between his player and the Harrisons.
Here are some takeaways from that discussion, with Pospichal putting the relationships in a deeper context:
The first meeting between the three players occurred several years ago. Randle was a member of the Titans and the Harrisons played for the rival Defenders.
Pospichal: “Understand, when we first started playing in the fifth grade, it was the Defenders. They were the big brothers. The first year we played them they beat us like we stole something. They were the hurdle we had to get over. So the next year, in sixth grade, the first couple of times we played them they beat us.”
Later that year, Randle’s team finally beat the Harrisons in a tournament in Maryland. The next year — seventh grade — the two sides played seven times, and the Harrisons’ squad won four of those. They played once in eighth grade, and that game went to Randle’s Titans.
The two teams didn’t face each other again until last July, when the Defenders defeated the Titans in a nationally televised game in Orlando.
Pospichal described all three players as super competitors.
Pospichal: “You grow up and you get past those rivalries. And you do what’s best for the team. It’s just like LeBron playing with Russell Westbrook and Durant at the Olympics. You get past all that. Because you’re going to put your best foot forward and play for the uniform you’re wearing today. They’re all tremendous. They’re elite players. I don’t think there are issues there. At the end of the day, there’s mutual respect around people who have accomplishments. Doesn’t mean there’s love, but there’s respect. And respect goes a long way. Respect who they are and what they do and there’s a lot of success that will follow that pattern.”
If Randle puts on a UK hat Wednesday, he’ll be teammates with his longtime rivals next season.
Pospichal: “I think Julius is so mature that it doesn’t matter to him who’s there. He knows that they’re great players. But he will trust the coaching staff to make sure that they’re going to do their job. And if the coaching staff does their job, that means the players will do their jobs. And at the end of the year, Kentucky people are probably going to be really excited.”
Pospichal didn’t deny that there has been some friction over the years. But that’s not surprising given the competitiveness of all three players. He also offered another simple explanation of the relationship among three prospects who have long been considered among the five best in the country.
Pospichal: “Where most of the anxiety might come from is the rankings and who’s the best kid in Texas.”
Next season the debate could very well be, “Who’s the best kid in Kentucky?”