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Under Armour isn’t the only factor in the Harrison Twins’ decision, but it’s a big one

Oct 2, 2012, 2:56 PM EDT

Harrison Twins AP

Likely the most closely followed recruitment of the 2013 class will come to an end Thursday, when Aaron and Andrew Harrison, “The Harrison Twins,” will reveal the school to which they will pledge their names.

It’s down to Kentucky and Maryland, one option the defending national champion and the undisputed recruiting heavyweight champion of the nation, John Calipari, against Maryland, coach Mark Turgeon, and one other big factor in this decision: Under Armour.

The Under Armour affiliation, shared by Maryland and the Harrison Twins’ AAU team, the Houston Defenders, has been the conversation piece du jour since news broke that a commitment would be coming Thursday.

But why? Are there really no other factors? Of course not.

Much of the conversation has omitted a few key points:

The twins, from Texas, have close ties to Turgeon, who previously coached at Texas A&M. The twins’ father, Aaron Sr., is from Baltimore and family members still live in the area.

Harrison Sr. is also close friends with Maryland assistant Bino Ranson, who has been integral in the twins’ recruitment. Shaquille Cleare, a 6-9, 285-pound freshman at Maryland, played alongside the twins with the Houston Defenders.

So why the focus on Under Armour? Without a doubt, it’s the appealing part of the conversation, it goes beyond the realm of “traditional” relationship-based recruiting and into something that, on the surface, feels like a different kind of recruiting.

But it’s nothing new. We seem to have just had this conversation in the spring, when Shabazz Muhammad committed to UCLA, a team that shares the adidas logo with Muhammad’s AAU team, Dream Vision.

The reason that this recruitment, in particular, should be so interesting is not because it could involve the politics of basketball shoe companies, but because of which shoe company it involves.

The basketball shoe market in the United States is nearly a Nike monopoly. According to Forbes, Nike owns 92% of the market share, followed by adidas with 5%, Reebok (owned by adidas) with 2%, and Fila, And1, and Under Armour sharing less than 1% combined.

The real point is that Under Armour’s focus on grassroots, evident in anything from their influence on the AAU scene to the tone and style of their recent marketing campaigns, takes a big step toward success if the Harrison Twins commit to Maryland on Thursday.

Here would be a company, headed by Kevin Plank, that made a commitment to grassroots basketball and got its first big, consistent brand loyalty shift from the AAU scene to college.

Phil Knight took Nike and used local school Oregon as its flagship. Under Armour is now trying to do the same with Maryland.

As the numbers show, it has a long way to go to crack into Nike’s share of the shoe market, but a pledge from the Harrison Twins would be a big victory for Plank & Co. Thursday night.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. imforbigblue - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Yeah twins pick Maryland and play for the 4th or 5th best team in the ACC won’t even win your conference let alone still a national title or come to UK and play with the best of the best and be rock stars Yeah it’s a hard choice. Plus if your worried about under armor don’t be UK is Nike and you can sign with Nike in the NBA and make triple what under armor will pay you

    • dlmzzz - Oct 2, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      The real problem, Mr. Blue, is that one of your statements is flat out wrong.

      “you can sign with Nike…and make triple what under armor will pay you”

      That’s delusional. If you’re Under Armour’s first (and for a while only) stars, then they will treat you the way Nike treats LeBron. There’s no way that they will get the same focus or bucks as one of Nike’s many, many stars.

  2. missouriman4ever - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    @ imforbigblue

    Wow dude. I feel bad for other UK fans, because they know you’re out there building a bad reputation for wildcat fans everywhere. Please don’t raise your kids to be the kind of fan/hater that you are. They deserve better.

  3. imforbigblue - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Are you kidding me Nike has the funds to out bid under armor without even trying. There is not one thing Maryland can offer the twins that UK can’t out do without blinking. Your basketball team is no where near UK’s level. They would be on TV more get there name out there better play with better players and have a chance to play for a championship all the while on your team being will be lucky to make the turny. There’s no other reason other than under armor buying those boys for Maryland

    • flanders9er - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      How would they be on television more when all of the Terps games are televised?

      • flanders9er - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        http://www.umterps.com/sports/m-baskbl/sched/md-m-baskbl-sched.html Your argument has no supporting evidence. Quit lying to yourself and the rest of the people on this site.

      • winna2468 - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        As a UK fan let me first apologize for the attitude of my fellow UK fan. I see no reason for anyone to be a jerk on the internet. He also needs to take a refresher course in language skills. As far as the point of the twins receiving more television exposure at UK, that I believe is valid. This year UK’s entire schedule will be televised with all but 5 games (including scrimmages and exhibitions) being televised nationally. The other 5 games will be on the SEC network. I checked your link below and saw that MD’s games will also be televised. However, 20 of those games will be regionally telecast. That is a huge difference. Turgeon is doing a great job bringing the proud tradition that is MD basketball back to prominence.

  4. imforbigblue - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Plus I think it’s Funny how there dad said he changed the boys number so nobody can call them besides under armor officials. So your right under armor isn’t buying Maryland players. What I find Funny is how the NCAA isn’t looking into this. It’s OK even if They don’t pick UK we will still have a better class and will still be the better team and you’ll still be a bottom feeder in the ACC

  5. gmsalpha - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Gosh Big Blue, would your world end if UK signed up with Under Armour when their Nike contract is up? Support your team. Who cares what corporation makes their uniforms.

  6. imforbigblue - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    I do support my team im just saying its REALLY shady daddy is only letting his boys talk with under armor ppl and not coaches and you know under armor won’t sign these boys if they pick UK so more or less under armor is buying players for maryland. What do you think ppl would say if Nike ppl were calling players for UK you dont think everybody in the mother would be calling Cal a cheater and Nike is buying UK players?? I dont see how the NCAA isnt looking into this to tell you the truth

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      Your Mafia Don IS a cheater Moron. Which is why your use of the words “Cal” and “Cheater” in the same sentence is glorious. Pot…meet kettle.

  7. cdins - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    I didnt know fila was even a company anymore

  8. 00terp - Oct 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    imforbigblue – are you seriously throwing out conspiracy theories about shady recruiting, when your coach is the biggest cheat in college basketball? Really. Tell me all Kentucky fans aren’t as moronic as you are. STFU.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      You will have to overlook him Terp.
      It is quite obvious the dudes goal is to be the #1 thumbs down recipient of all time.
      If you look at ALL his posts (past and present)…you will see he averages no more than 3 or 4 thumbs up on any given post. Which means he has a grand total of 3 or 4 relatives.

  9. tomtravis76 - Oct 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Maryland can offer a school that is in close proximity to their family. Maryland can offer a top ten media market just down the road.

    This isn’t a shot at Kentucky by anyone thinking UK is a bad program, its MD offers more short term opportunity as well as long term working relationships beyond college. To think MD is going to be a bottom feeder of the ACC is just wearing blinders in regards to the talent Turg is assembling. Dont get too upset when the Terps hand it to Kentucky in Brooklyn. The ACC is the top basketball conference in the country and now they are adding Cuse, Pitt and Notre Dame….come on now, that conference will have everyone drooling over them like SEC football.

    Cal wont be there too much longer anyways, he is too competitive, and wants to show he can have success in the association.

  10. imforbigblue - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Are you freaking kidding me saying Maryland can offer more than UK short term and offer more media? So I guess the 15 NBA players in the past three years coming out of UK is nothing. He’ll Maryland hadn’t had 15 NBA players in the past 20 years. Check to see who plays more on tv this year UK or Maryland and check to see who gets more national media attention UK or Maryland. Everything you pointed out was false! End of story if you didn’t have under armor buying you the twins They would be at UK

    • flanders9er - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Where are these statistics coming from? The Terps have had 24 players in the NBA in the past 20 years.

      • imforbigblue - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:21 PM

        Yeah 24 players in 20 years UK has put 15 in 3 years if i go back 20 years i’m sure its double yours. Plus UK has put two #1’s and a #2 plus set the record twice with 5 first round players then 6 players last year. Kids now of days dont give a crap what you have done the past 20 years its all about what your doing now and guess what your not doing jack!

    • brianjoates - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Remember the Twins will not be playing in College Park this season. With Turg building the Terps this season and adding the Harrison twins to a team loaded with what will be really talented sophs and juniors, you can bet they will have plenty of nationally televised games and fans across thecountry want to see these kids play.

      And don’t think that some NBA owner is not going to offer a ton of money to Cal next off season. His time at UK is nearing an end, too many coaches ,boosters, fans ,who hold a grudge against Cal are trying to do anything they can to bring light of any dirt on him, its not always fair but thats how schools get busted, everyone gets jealous. Cal is going to have to pull a Pete Carrol and high tail it out of Kentucky before he catches all the blame for some incident that might just be false.

      Maryland is bulding for another National title…Turg is the man!!!

  11. imforbigblue - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    LMAO….sorry i couldnt get past the part where you said maryland was building up to a national title. True winning the ACC before you set your sites on a NCAA title you cant play with the big boys yet

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