By LARRY VAUGHT
CHICAGO — The more the speculation circulated, the more all the players wondered where the rumor started and why it continued to be so believable for many.
“Everybody made that up. I don’t know why people made that stuff up. Me and my brother (Andrew Harrison) and Julius (Randle) been knowing each other since we have been 10 years old and never had a problem like that. That was all a complete lie,” said Aaron Harrison Tuesday.
All three players will be playing together at Kentucky next year and all three are ranked as the top player at their position. Yet after the Harrison twins signed with UK in November, speculation began that Randle — another Texas product — would never sign with UK because the players did not like each other. Instead, Randle verbally committed to UK one day after the Cats lost to Robert Morris in the NIT to put UK’s recruiting class move to the nation’s best all-time class.
“I don’t know where nobody got that stuff from. Me and Aaron are fierce competitors and so is Julius,” Andrew Harrison, a point guard, said. “We have played against each other that way, so I guess that is where people grabbed that from. Julius is like one of our brothers. We like him. We started playing against each other about fifth grade.
“I know Julius is a great player and he knows what me and Aaron can do, too. We want to feed off each other and be leaders. Julius is a great player. He can do pretty much anything on the court. We are going to enjoy having him on our team and always felt that way.”
“He completely changes our recruiting class. He is the best scoring power forward in the country. He is strong, powerful, athletic, runs the floor. It is amazing what he can do,” Aaron Harrison, a shooting guard, said.
All three are here to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game tonight — and will also play in the Jordan Brand Classic April 13 in Brooklyn. They started playing against each other AAU basketball against in the fourth grade. The Harrison played for the Houston Defenders, Randle played for the Texas Titans. Most years those were the top two teams in Texas.
“I have been playing against them since I was 9 years old. I know them pretty well,” Randle laughed and said Tuesday. “Those games were wars. After that, I didn’t want to do anything because my body was hurting. It was wars every time we played. You had to deal with two of them. I still remember those wars even from fifth grade and being sore even then.
“It was kind of like we were the two best teams in Texas. We just all wanted to compete. We hated to lose. I think that is where that whole thing of where we didn’t like each other came from. I don’t know who started that, but we all hate to lose. Now we are playing together and happy to be doing it.”
The Harrisons admit they are intense and sometimes considered “arrogant” because of their no-nonsense demeanor.
“We’re focused kids and we want to win at all times. We had battles with him. I guess when you see us play, we talked a little trash. But Julius is a really good friend of mine,” Andrew Harrison said.
“We’ve never had any type of beef, so it was funny to me when the rumors kept going,” Randle, who let the Harrisons know about his commitment to UK well before he made it public, said.