ARLINGTON, Texas. — The frustration of not meeting sky-high expectations was beginning to wear on Aaron Harrison about a month ago when the Kentucky guard's dad visited him and his twin brother in Lexington.
The advice Aaron Harrison Sr. had for Aaron was hardly revolutionary but it was exactly what the talented shooting guard needed to hear at the time. The elder Harrison told both his sons to relax, have fun, ignore outside criticism and not worry so much about their draft stock because the family is financially secure enough that the twins don't need to turn pro before they're ready.
"It was huge for me," Aaron Harrison said. "He just took a lot of pressure off us and told us just to go back to playing basketball the way we'd been playing our whole lives. He really just gave me a lot of confidence back."
It's probably too simplistic to credit the visit from his father as the sole reason for Aaron's late-season surge, but it's also probably not a coincidence both his efficiency and production have increased dramatically since then.
In the seven games since spending a few days with his dad, Aaron has averaged 16.6 points and has hit 22 of 44 threes. In 18 regular season SEC games before that, Aaron averaged 12.6 points and hit 31.9 percent of his threes.
"I think it's just that I've got my confidence back," Aaron said. "I think I was thinking about failing too much, thinking about what other people were saying. I think I would take it so hard that I would lose confidence. I've stopped doing that now, and it has helped."
Whatever the reason, Kentucky is glad Aaron has caught fire because the Wildcats would not be preparing to face Wisconsin in the Final Four on Saturday otherwise. Aaron sank the biggest shot of both Kentucky's victories in Indianapolis last week, burying a last-minute corner jump shot against Louisville to put the Wildcats ahead and then sinking a contested game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds against Michigan two nights later.
If Aaron can continue to provide another perimeter shooter besides James Young, that will only make Kentucky even more potent on offense. Opposing defenses typically have tried to protect the paint and force the Wildcats to win from the perimeter since Kentucky has explosive guards who attack the rim and a stable of long, athletic big men.
"A lot of people are starting to realize how good Aaron is," Andrew Harrison said. "He has shown the world he is a big-time shot maker and he can really score the ball."
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