by BEN ROBERTS, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader
LEXINGTON, Ky. — For all of his unbelievable accomplishments in the realm of recruiting, John Calipari had never landed the two best guards in one single class.
He has now.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison committed to the University of Kentucky in a made-for-ESPN special from their high school gym in Houston, Texas, on Thursday. The Harrison twins are the two highest-rated guards in the class of 2013, and Scout.com ranks them as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the nation.
In the end, it came down to Maryland and Kentucky.
The Terrapins had a lot going for them. Coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Bino Ranson formed great relationships with Aaron Harrison Sr., the players’ father and a Baltimore native. One of the twins’ best friends, Shaquille Cleare, is Maryland’s top freshman this season. And many thought Under Armour, the Baltimore-based apparel company that outfits the Harrisons’ AAU team and Maryland athletics, would be able to seal the deal.
But Calipari won out, as he often does.
The Harrisons will join the latest group of superstar freshmen expected to converge on Lexington for the 2013-14 season. Bullitt East standout Derek Willis is UK’s only other commitment so far, but Calipari is well positioned with several five-star prospects.
With Thursday’s commitments, Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader that UK would jump Florida for the No. 1 spot in the 2013 class rankings.
Andrew Harrison, rated No. 2 overall by Scout.com, will be the next in Calipari’s long line of blue-chip point guards dating back to his days at Memphis.
At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Andrew mixes a unique size and strength with traditional point guard qualities.
“The thing I like about Andrew is he plays with such poise and he can do so many things with the ball in his hands,” Daniels said. “And I think he’s only going to get better when he has significant talent around him. He’s so good at creating for others. He’s so good at getting in the lane. He’s strong. He’s athletic. He’s a fierce competitor too. That dude is an intense basketball player.
“He’s also a guy that – if you want to take him off the ball and tell him to go get some buckets, he can do that too. He can do it in a variety of ways. There’s a lot to like about Andrew.”
Aaron Harrison is no slouch either. The 6-5 shooting guard is ranked No. 3 overall by Scout.com and Rivals.com.
“With Aaron, it’s all about scoring and his ability to get points from a number of different levels. Whether it be at the rim, from mid-range, at the three-point line or even well beyond the three-point line,” Daniels said. “And he can do all that both off the catch and off the dribble.
“Similar to Andrew, he’s so strong and athletic and intense. I think, when Aaron hits the basketball floor, he’s got a little fire in his belly. He’s playing a tough brand of basketball.”
Both Harrison twins are projected to be lottery picks in the latest 2014 mock draft from Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress.com.
With the Harrisons in the fold, fellow top-10 recruit James Young could be the next UK target to announce his college destination.
Young made a trip to Lexington last weekend and is expected to visit Michigan State in the next few days. After that, he and his family will sit down and either plan out a schedule of official visits – or perhaps go ahead and make a commitment.
Among the other players on UK’s radar are Julius Randle, who some rate as the No. 1 recruit in 2013, and Andrew Wiggins, who most think is the best player in all of high school basketball.
Daniels said there is “still a lot to play out” with those two recruitments, which are expected to extend into the spring. For instance, Wiggins is currently a member of the class of 2014, but could reclassify in the next few weeks.
If Calipari were able to team up Randle and Wiggins with the Harrison twins?
Look out, says Daniels.
“Put those two dudes on the floor with Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins and you might as well hand Kentucky a national championship.”