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By LARRY VAUGHT
His twin brother, Andrew Harrison, is regarded as the nation’s best prep point guard and is already projected as a high pick in the 2014 lottery even though he won’t play his first game at Kentucky until November.
Yet it was his brother, 6-5 shooting guard Aaron Harrison, who was named the top boys basketball player in Houston for his play this season. Aaron Harrison, who has also signed with UK, averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 blocks to help Travis High School win the Class 5A state championship. He had seven games with at least 30 points.
Last year’s award winner, Rasheed Sulaimon, 11.6 points per game this season at UK and started all but three games for a team that reached the Elite Eight.
Aaron Harrison could make the same impact at Kentucky because he’s also rated as the nation’s best shooting guard by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and is a prolific 3-point shooter. Both Harrisons played in the McDonald’s All-American Game last week and will be in the Jordan Brand Classic Saturday in Brooklyn.
“Winning state this year meant everything to me. Of course, it is great going to college and playing, but that is winning a state championship with the friends you grew up with in the neighborhood. That was an amazing feeling,” Aaron Harrison said. “In the preseason we were ranked pretty high but we took some losses and people counted us out after that. We all knew what we could do and could win if we kept our heads down and kept moving. That is why it meant so much.”
He knows expectations at Kentucky already are that the Wildcats will win the national title despite having a roster with perhaps eight or more freshmen.
“We like all of it. Great players thrive in great moments. We want everybody to be out there. Just wait and see,” Aaron Harrison said. “Last year I really don’t think they had a leader on the team and I feel like we need to establish a leader on the team. Guys that are going to push everybody, guys that will be ready to make sure everyone is practicing and playing hard all the time. I think they lacked that last year.
“Definitely me and Andrew are used to being leaders on the team because of high school and AAU teams. If that is a role we take, we’ll take it and gladly run with it. We won’t be afraid of that role.”
That relentless attitude is what Kentucky coach John Calipari may like best about the Harrisons. They respect opponents, but fear no one and that attitude goes from practice to games.
“The goal is to win a national championship,” Aaron Harrison said. “It’s not to be 40-0. It’s to win our last game. That is what our goal is. It would be nice to go 40-0, but that is not our overall goal. The expectation of all six (UK recruits playing in the McDonald’s and Jordan games) is that we love to win. We think we are a great team. Just want to go out there and prove it to everybody.”
He’s not worried about UK fans being more demanding because this year’s team lost in the NIT’s first round or that Louisville won the national title.
“We kind of like the pressure, so it is not pressure. It is more of a chip on our shoulders that we would just like to get off and go out and play hard. It is really a learning situation that we can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “We all have the confidence we can do it. We just have to go out there and prove it to everybody else. We know we can get it done if we work hard. It is not about words. It is about what you do out there on the court.”