It was their 20-by-25-foot cement combat zone, their own private concrete Cameron Indoor Stadium where the brotherly wars took place. No one ever won one of those things — and they'd play all hours into the night if the final buzzer didn't come when darkness fell or dad would call them to come inside.
and Andrew Harrison
lived on their driveway court. It was their little crucible where they would test each other beyond limits no one else could. It didn't matter the time of day or what day it was: Andrew and Aaron would go at each other harder than anyone else could.
If you see one, you see the other. The junior twins from Fort Bend Travis (Richmond, Texas)
are inseparable. They're also among the best players in the nation: Andrew, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound point guard, is ranked No. 4 nationally by MaxPreps, while twin bother Aaron, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound shooting guard who's a minute older than Andrew, is rated No. 7 overall.
They also wouldn't be where they are without each other, and they'll be the first to admit it.
The prodding and playful cajoling that the twins direct at one another comes with an edge that says, "I expect more from you." It's something that started on the family's court in the Harrisons' last house in a cul-de-sac that their father, Aaron Sr., put up.
See them on the court pointing, that's rarely targeting at opposing players — it's usually aimed at their sibling. Because they demand more, they've come to expect it. It goes way back to when they couldn't get enough of those driveway battles.
"I don't think anyone ever won a game," Andrew recalled, with a slight laugh. "Neither one of us like to lose at all, especially to each other. Either it got dark or our father would tell us to come inside. We would keep score sometimes, but it really was all about not wanting to hear each other's mouth the next day. It's more intense between us, and I think that's helped us. I kind of expect perfection out of Aaron and I let him know when I think he's doing something wrong."
It goes both ways.
"I really enjoy playing with my brother," Aaron said. "But I do expect a lot out of him; we expect a lot out of each other. Andrew is a point guard, I expect no turnovers from him and to be smart with the ball. Sometimes he tends to pass a little too much and sometimes I'll need to attack a little more. Andrew will tell me not to get too jump shot happy, keep attacking and stay focused. But we make each other better. Some of that came from those games we'd play at home. I'd say our toughness came from there."
The twins have started their junior season extremely well, leading Fort Bend Travis over Yates (Houston), 77-69, before more than 4,000 fans at the Merrell Center on Nov. 14. Aaron scored a game-high 21 for the Tigers, while Andrew ran a great floor game and chipped in with 20.
The game further confirmed all the attention the Harrisons are receiving. Maryland, Texas, Kentucky, Baylor and Villanova are highly involved, and Duke has become more serious. The Harrisons plan to soon visit Villanova, which is 90 minutes away from where Aaron Sr. grew up in East Baltimore, Md., and where the twins' grandparents still live. Whichever school they choose, Aaron and Andrew are also coming as a twin package, and have played on the same team since they first began playing organized basketball.
If there is another glaring reason why Aaron and Andrew are yes-sir, no-sir young men, all anyone needs to do is look at their father, Aaron Sr., who owns his own car lot, The Driver's Edge. Aaron Sr. makes sure his sons are grounded — very grounded
. While many of the nation's top recruits get ingratiated with the spoils of their status every summer, you may find Andrew and Aaron toiling at dad's lot, washing and vacuuming cars.
It all stems from the work ethic instilled into Aaron Sr.
"It's the way I was raised, I came up knowing the ethic of hard work and dedication and my sons are learning the same way," Aaron Sr. said. "Just because you're a junior in high school and gifted in basketball, that doesn't mean you don't do chores. I can't comprehend that. We never had that conversation about the NBA, and until about five or six months ago, we had our first serious conversation about college. But if they're not playing in a tournament during the summer on Saturdays, they're washing cars in my lot. They vacuum and sweep around.
"My boys were raised to be humble. Fortunately, Aaron and Andrew haven't had a day in their lives when they wanted for anything. I see the pressure placed on these kids in these summer leagues. There were kids that I saw for the first time that the kids were the ones who were the adults and the ones in charge, and the parents were the ones acting like the children and letting their children talk to them any way they wanted. That's not happening here. My sons know about respect. It's important that they get an education. A lot of these families put all their eggs in the basketball basket. I really didn't want to believe that, but I guess they do. That won't happen with my sons."
Last year, Fort Bend Travis reached the Texas Class 5A Regional III championship, where the Tigers lost to Hightower, 55-47, despite 15 points from Andrew. But there was one unfortunate situation that marred the Tigers' trip to the regional final, an ugly scuffle that took place before a game on Feb. 15 against Fort Bend Austin between Aaron and Andrew with a teammate who had been angry at Aaron for not passing him the ball more. The teammate uttered an expletive, then walked up and pushed Aaron before the Austin game. Seeing this, Andrew jumped in to defend his brother, and the melee was blared all over the local news in Houston.
But after talking to both Aaron and Andrew, the regrettable occurrence doesn't seem fit their character.
"Sure, on the court, we go at it and we do play tough and hard," Aaron admitted. "I regret what happened and that's not me. I tried to apologize. I really regret it a lot. But it was one of those things that got way blown up a lot, more than it should have been. Me and brother aren't that way. That's not really who we are."
No, they're two of the nation's best juniors whose talents and skills were forged on a small patch of cement where some of the best games no one ever saw were waged. That didn't matter to Aaron and Andrew Harrison. They saw the progress, and can thank themselves for where they are.