UK freshman guard Aaron Harrison is used to being compared to his twin brother.
Still, he might be the only basketball player who can say he is considered the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country at his position but not considered the best recruit in his house.
That’s the situation Aaron finds himself in after being ranked as the No. 1 shooting guard recruit in the Class of 2013 and a top-10 recruit nationally by each of the four major recruiting services (Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports and ESPN). Aaron’s twin brother, fellow UK freshman Andrew Harrison, was ranked as the top point guard recruit in the country and a top-five recruit nationally by those same four major recruiting services.
Aaron knows he is perceived as the second-best Harrison twin.
Aaron Harrison | Photo by Jon Hale
“I don’t know where they get that from or anything, but I just use it as motivation,” Aaron said in a one-on-one interview with KyForward in September. “I feel like it helps me.”
Aaron is projected to immediately step into the UK starting lineup as a freshman, though he faces competition from fellow freshman guard James Young.
At 6-foot-6, 218 pounds, Aaron is one of the biggest guards in the country.
“In the small period of time that I worked with him the other day, Aaron is unbelievable getting to his left,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a roundtable interview with local reporters in September. “He’s better than I thought. Everybody’s saying Andrew is was above Aaron. That’s not true.”
During the summer, Calipari pointed to Aaron as the likely candidate to be UK’s lockdown defender this season.
He is ready for that challenge.
“I think I can do that if I stay focused and be in the best shape of my life,” he said.
The Harrison twins missed summer workouts and conditioning as they finished their academic work from high school, but Aaron thinks having a pre-existing relationship with most of the freshmen has helped them make up for missed time.
Since arriving in Lexington for the fall semester, Aaron has already impressed at least one returning Wildcat.
“Aaron surprised me with how well he can score, get to the rim and how well he can shoot,” said sophomore forward Alex Poythress.
Calipari acknowledges he still has difficulty telling the twins apart at times. They currently sport different haircuts, making the task easier, Calipari said.
Being a twin has brought a extra set of considerations for Aaron and Andrew on the basketball court. Calipari is excited about having two guards who are so close play together on the same team, but the twins also faced rumors during the recruiting process that they were not capable of playing with other top players.
Both twins consider that criticism laughable.
“Why don’t you just ask someone who’s been on our team before?” Aaron said. “Then ask these guys out here.”
Proving rumors like that one wrong will be key to the Cats reaching their stated goal of winning a national championship this season.
The Final Four will be played in the Harrisons’ home state, giving them an added perk to reaching that level.
Coming from Texas gives Aaron an interesting perspective on the basketball-crazy Bluegrass state.
“Football is the most important thing to them down there,” he said. “It’s great just to come to a place like Kentucky where everyone else is like you, everyone else loves basketball like they love anything.”
With that attitude, Aaron should have no problem ingratiating himself to UK fans.
And if he surprises a few along the way, all the better.
“He has a chip on his shoulder,” Andrew said of his brother. “I know he’s ready to prove a lot of people wrong.”
In the weeks leading up to the 2013 UK men’s basketball media day, KyForward is previewing the season with a series of stories about the Cats resulting from interviews with players and head coach John Calipari from September. As they publish, you can see all of the stories in the series here.