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Landing the Harrison twins was John Calipari’s most impressive recruitment

Oct 4, 2012, 5:39 PM EDT


I mean, honestly, what did we expect to happen?

Did we really think that John Calipari and Kentucky were going to get beaten out by Maryland for two players — twins, no less — that they had been targeting?

We really thought Mark Turgeon and Maryland — neither of whom have a reputation for pulling in this kind of recruit — had a chance going toe-to-toe with the best recruiter in the country, who just may be the best recruiter ever?

The crazy thing is that, despite all the talk about Coach Cal doesn’t lose recruits he targets and how he has to be favored in every recruiting battle he is involved in, there wasn’t a single recruiting pundit who had any idea about where Andrew and Aaron Harrison were headed at the start of the ESPN U show where they made their announcement. That’s how real the chance was for Maryland to win the services of the Harrisons.

And that’s also why I believe this is the most impressive job Coach Cal has ever done on the recruiting trail.

The Harrison twins had, quite literally, EVERY reason in the world to go to Maryland. Their father grew up in East Baltimore and still has plenty of extended family in the area. Their father also has a terrific relationship with assistant Bino Ranson and with head coach Mark Turgeon, who he refers to as the “most upright citizen I have met in basketball” after seeing the way that Turgeon handled the death of a recruit named Tobi Oyedeji. The twins are also very close with a former AAU teammate named Shaquille Cleare, who is currently a freshman on the Maryland roster.

All that comes before you take into account the Under Armour factor. Under Armour was founded by a Maryland alum and former football player. Maryland is the apparel company’s flagship program, much the way that Oregon is for Nike. Under Armour has also sponsored the twin’s AAU team — coached by their father — for the past couple of summers. And pops also admitted to USA Today that the only person allowed to call his son’s cell phone was a rep from Under Armour.

Keep in mind, the last time that Coach Cal lost a recruiting battle — when Shabazz Muhammad opted to go to UCLA instead of Kentucky — it was quite obvious to those in the know what the outcome was. Why? Because Adidas had a firm grip on Muhammad. They sponsored his AAU team. They even had a sponsorship deal with his sister, who was a professional tennis player. There was no way they were letting him go to a school sponsored by Nike. If it wasn’t UCLA, he would have been headed to Kansas or Baylor or another program repping the three stripes. It seemed like Under Armour had a firm grip on the Harrisons.

In simpler terms, Coach Cal reached into Texas and beat out a school that had much better relationships with the players and that also happened to be the highest-profile program of the shoe company that had sponsored them throughout their last years in high school.

And he did it for a pair of twins, both of whom are consensus top five recruits, that complement each other perfectly in the back court and happen to be the best point guard (Andrew) and shooting guard (Aaron) in the class.

The stakes haven’t been higher for Cal, and his performance has never been better.

Good job, good effort, Maryland.

What else does Cal have left to prove?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. bruinpred - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Great News! As they say at that bastion of academia, “college should be the best year of your life!”

  2. missouriman4ever - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Everybody get ready for imforbigblue to blow up this site with how perfect Coach Cal is and how incredible of a fan he is. I vow not to read anything ever posted about UK again.

    • kingghidora - Oct 5, 2012 at 5:59 PM

      Great! Now we don’t have to expect any inane comments from the losers section. Calipari rules Mizzo too. Do you guys have a basketball team there? Never heard of it but that doesn’t mean you don’t have one.

  3. imforbigblue - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Lol good you can just watch us win another title it’s good to be a UK fans bitches!

  4. gatordontplay - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Imforbigblueballsinmymouth you accused Maryland and under armour of cheating and conspiracy to get the twins. So what did uk and cal do to get them? He’s purity of a coach and recruiter or out bidden Maryland?

  5. tfitz11 - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    UK should enjoy it while it lasts…in a few years all their wins and titles will disappear just like Memphis and UMass

    • kingghidora - Oct 5, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      I’m still waiting for the NCAA to come down hard on that cheating John Wooden. The only difference is there is actual proof he cheated. Dozens of his players admitted it. Now Duke, UNC, and UCONN are all on the sanctions hot seat. My how times have changed. Enes Kanter was banned from ever playing NCAA ball because of a payment the NCAA told him he could get. They lied right up to the very last day he was supposed to be declared eligible. And people (meaning UK fans – all 10 million of them) were ready to start a whole new governing body. The NCAA must have wised up when they saw just how much revenue UK could generate. Now you mid-major types (meaning everyone except UK) can just deal with it because Cal and the Cats own the sport just like Alabama and LSU own football. Can you say “dynasty”?

  6. imforbigblue - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Same old song and dance with you cry baby’s. Itz OK hate all you want it’s dUKe and UNC that’s being looked at by the NCAA not UK lol

  7. gatordontplay - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Avoiding the question?

  8. dcviking - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Based on past performance, history shows that UK and Coach Cal are both ethically and moral responsible entities.

    Signed –

    Bernie Madoff

    • kingghidora - Oct 5, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      So that letter the NCAA sent to Cal declaring him totally innocent of the crap you’re singing about means nothing? Of course it does to you. You don’t want to face the truth which is UK is about to go on a tear the basketball world hasn’t seen the likes of since the 60’s (Boston, not UCLA).

  9. florida727 - Oct 5, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    “imforbigblue”, try learning how to be successful with a little humility, will you? People don’t hate Kentucky because you win. They hate Kentucky because your fans are @$$holes. Change sports and let’s see how much you brag. You know, like in football, where we’ve not only beaten your team TWENTY-SIX times in a row, we now, officially, consider playing you guys another bye week.

    Here’s my best memory of UK “fans”: riding on MARTA in Atlanta heading to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Tournament a few years back, a bunch of Gator fans step on board and the Kentucky fans start chanting, “Walsh is gay”, obviously directed at Matt Walsh, our shooting guard and All-SEC first-teamer. Unfortunately for UK fans, they didn’t quite do their homework on that one. Walsh’s girlfriend was a Playboy Playmate who was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. All any of us could think was, “if he’s gay, where do we sign up!”

    • kingghidora - Oct 5, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      Yeah right. Look at the “Cal is a cheater” comments in this one thread. And you think “UK” fans are the butt holes? Go look in the mirror pal. You’re just ticked that Florida just realized they aren’t going to win the SEC next year. Wait until the rest of Cal’s class of 2013 signs on. You’ll be wanting to jump on the bandwagon before it’s over. It must get old losing so much after being good for a while. That two step Donovan did set your program back decades and just at the minute you think you might be back here comes Cal’s Cats to remind you who owns college basketball. And it ain’t Florida or any other mid-major.

  10. cranespy - Oct 5, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Why restore a former top line program to prominence when you can take the easy way out. In Kentucky you play on an All Star team with a coach who is committed to your future….he has it going on..too bad the twins were not made of the stuff that builds programs…should we be surprised? Give me a title and a contract to sign on….that’s all I want….don’t bother with the textbooks I’m just passing thru! And we call this man a College Basketball Coach? Why? UK is the real D league! The only solace is knowing that it will come crashing down…and then who will want to go to UK when they are on probation…and the titles are vacated! The clock is ticking…..

    • imforbigblue - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      LOL…..are you freaking kidding me? So your saying coach Cal should of signed with some small school and build it and not take the easy way and sign with UK. So your saying if a company like Apple came to you and said we will pay you $4 million a year to work for us you would say no i’ll work for Best Buy for $40,000 a year.

      UK and Cal are a match made in heaven and hes showing the rest of the college basketball world theres UK and then theres the rest of you….Don’t worry we cant sign every top 10 players we will leave you our left overs

  11. coach1959 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    I’m surprised and disappointed that most of you don’t realize that Kentucky/Calipari are doing what other elite programs are doing — recruiting the best HS basketball players they can. Name one coach that would turn down the “twins”. Complaining simply means you are pissed because Calipari has become the best college recruiter since John Wooden (and he was very, very good !!!). The elite HS players know they are on a career path to the NBA — anybody want to turn down, say $5 million and more? Calipari provides them with their best opportunity to get that NBA contract. Complaining is simply “sour grapes” that Coach Calipari is the best college recruiter today. Success breeds success.

  12. kingghidora - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    What is really entertaining is the folks going on about how UK players should stay in school for 4 years yet the people crying about it have the grammar skills of a grammar school dropout. I wonder why they didn’t stay in school and get an education? Maybe someone paid them millions to drop out of school.

    Show me someone that turns down millions of dollars to drop out of school and I’ll show you someone that couldn’t make it in school anyway (unless they went to UNC and took basket weaving) because they’re dumb as a coal bucket. If you think you would turn down that kind of money that puts you in that category. No way you would do it. No one in their right mind does it. They can change their life and the lives of their entire family by taking the money. Not only would it be incredibly stupid to turn down that money but it would be immoral IMO because there is so much good they could do for their family with that kind of money that only someone who doesn’t care one bit about mom and dad would turn down that level of cash.

    Watching the crybabies cry about UK is almost as much fun as watching UK continue to win titles, sign top recruits, make the final 4, win the SEC, and go into the tournament as a #1 seed. It reminds me for the world of Wylie Coyote chasing the Road Runner knowing it only hurts him to try it. Do you really think recruits don’t have computers? Do you think none of them read these comments? Do you not understand that you drive recruits away by being such babies? I’ve seen it time after time after time. Players don’t want to play for second rate teams with crybaby fans. They want to be the top dog with fans that care about them and not what some other coach is doing. That’s not a winning attitude. That’s a crybaby attitude and it makes people sick. It sure as heck doesn’t make them want to play for those fans. So keep on crying babies. You’re just driving more and more recruits right into Cal’s arms. Obviously it won’t be every recruit but it only takes one major loss like the Harrison’s to start a trend. So please, by all means keep crying. We appreciate all the help you can give the Cats. :)

  13. txnative61 - Oct 10, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Considering coach Cal and UK have the most salable program in the country on merit, it would be beyond stupid to offer illegal inducements to recruits. Not saying Maryland offered any, but they are not in the same position. It’s really another selling point for UK that players likely won’t have to be distracted by a cloud of accusations.

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