Twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison soon will complete their high school careers and begin a series of high-profile all-star games — Jordan Brand Classic, McDonald’s All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit — before coming to Kentucky to play.
Those who know the twins from Richmond, Texas, say not only will Kentucky get talented players, but UK will also be getting two quality youngsters.
“They are great kids. They are very polite, very respectful. They are a riot to be around,” said Jennifer Brownson, the wife of Travis High School coach Craig Brownson. “Chances are if a prank is being pulled, they are involved. They are just a lot of fun to be around and just good kids. Don’t see that on the court with the pranks and fun.
“They have always been great. They are very focused on the court and incredible competitors. When they are out there, they are business. When they get off the court and they are with their teammates and friends, they are biggest goofballs you can ever imagine. It’s really neat for me to watch them and how they change going back and forth between the two. They are fun kids.”
Teammate Nathan Bertness is one of their best friends.
“I mean, they are pretty normal people. They are not arrogant or anything. They are just like regular people,” Bertness said. “I have known them since second grade. We played PeeWee football and they went to my elementary school and we went to middle school together. I have always played sports with them and they were always the stars.
“We were kind of friends in elementary school just from football. But we never hung out that much. In middle school we started hanging out a lot. We played on the same football and basketball team. Then it went up from there. They have gotten a lot better through the years. They have always been dominant players, but they just kept getting better and better.”
Bertness is such good friends with both that he accompanied them to UK for Big Blue Madness in 2011 and 2012.
“The fans were great. They treat them really good. It was a really cool experience because it was really different,” he said. “We have been such good friends that they just asked Mr. Harrison if I could come and he said fine. I am always at their house doing stuff.
“They are pretty normal with me. Don’t act different. Everywhere we go people ask for pictures and autographs and they are really cool about it. They will never say no unless we have to go somewhere, and they will say sorry and be polite about it even then. They are really outgoing, and they are both jokesters.
“But on the court they are very competitive. They always want to win. Even in practice, they will get on you if you do something bad just because they want to win. Most of the time it is not really complaining, they just want to win. It is that way all the time with them and they are just as hard on each other, too.”
Jennifer Brownson has seem them mature and change as players on her husband’s team.
“Their sophomore year they were obviously the incredible talents they are now, but they did not really take the leadership role they have now until their junior year,” she said. “Sophomore year they were always incredibly talented kids and confident kids but did not have the confidence to lead the team. They needed to develop and now they are totally comfortable as leaders. I have seen them grow up in that way. I have also seen them get better and every year.
“This group, most of them been together since elementary school, junior high and there is no ego on this team. Aaron and Andrew are just as willing to pass to their teammates as they are to shoot. There is no ego. If any of the other kids get in the game and Aaron or Andrew are on the bench, they will cheer for their teammates just like anybody else. They are very close with all their teammates.”
She also says the twins’ teammates sometimes “give them a hard time about autographs” because fans are always wanting them.
“But they are the most down to earth kids you could ever imagine. Their parents have done an incredible job of just making sure they can just be kids and that has made an incredible difference for both of them,” she said. “Craig has been coaching for 16 years and every single one becomes like a son to us. I wil miss them when they go and it will be fun to see what they become.
“It is really fun to watch the twins play because one of them always knows where the other one is on the court. You will sit and wonder how certain passes get pulled off but they have that sixth sense of where each other is all the time. Watch for that. You will really enjoy watching them play together.”
Jennifer Brownson says he has no trouble telling the twins apart.
“Their mannerisms are different. Andrew squints a little bit more than Aaron does. Aaron tends to be a little bit goofier than Andrew. You just learn by being around them. You get to know their mannerisms and expressions,” she said.
However, she knows UK fans, and even media members, might struggle to identify them correctly.
“It is going to be hard. I always tell them at the scorer’s table just do it in alphabetical order. Aaron is always No. 2 and Andrew is always No. 5. That’s how you can watch and see who they are on the court but it is not unusual for the wrong one to get a foul or get credit for the other one’s score,” she said.
Jennifer Brownson says she will always be grateful for how the twins responded to her two sons.
“We spend as much time together as possible. Coaches are gone a lot, so I take the kids to the gym and they do their homework in the gym with the players,” she said. “It is just a habit of we have been in of being together. I have gotten to know them well. My kids think Aaron and Andrew are their big brothers. They will always ask where are the kids. Aaron and Andrew absolutely love kids. It is fun for them to be around the kids and one of the things they enjoy and UK fans will see that.”
Bertness says he will miss the twins’ friendship when they leave for UK in June.
“They are pretty cool people. I like that they are different. Through the years as they have got more popular, they are still the same people. I will miss that and their company. They are just great guys. Kentucky is lucky to be getting them,” he said.