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In maybe John Calipari’s top recruiting coup yet, the Harrison twins pick Kentucky

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Andrew and Aaron Harrison (Getty Images)

On Sunday afternoon, John Calipari, Mark Turgeon and Larry Brown will be among the five coachesconducting a clinic for coaches and fans at SMU's Moody Coliseum.

Only Calipari will have bragging rights.

Calipari landed the most significant package deal in recent college basketball history when Andrew and Aaron Harrison announced live on national TV they'll attend Kentucky in fall 2013. The Harrison twins, Rivals.com's No. 3 and 4 recruits in their class, chose the Wildcats over Maryland and SMU.

"I think Coach Calipari presented a challenge for us," Aaron Harrison said. "He told us from day one it was going to be hard, it was going to be tough, he was going to push us every day. That's what we really wanted to hear. We just want to become better players."

That Calipari managed to land the Harrison twins only reinforces his status as college basketball's premier recruiter. No other coach in the nation would have been able to out-duel Maryland for the Texas natives given the many, many advantages the Terps had in their quest to land them.

Maryland would have been attractive to the twins no matter what since their father, Aaron Sr., is a Baltimore native. The Terps became even more appealing when they hired Turgeon, who began pursuing Andrew and Aaron at Texas A&M when they were in seventh grade and has made them his top priority since coming to College Park. It also helps that Maryland has Shaquille Cleare, a friend and former AAU teammate of the twins.

And then there's the much-ballyhooed Under Armour connection, which no doubt helped Maryland as well. Maryland is Under Armour's flagship school and Under Armour sponsors Andrew's and Aaron's AAU program and has forged a strong relationship with the twins. How much influence that had on the twins' interest in the Terps is debatable, but it would be naive to think executives from the fledgling shoe-apparel company wouldn't have rejoiced at Andrew and Aaron committing to an Under Armour school rather than a Nike program.

Why ignore all those ties to attend Kentucky? Well, it's safe to say Calipari's track record of winning and producing NBA players didn't hurt. The coach of the defending national champions has produced 15 NBA players and 11 first-rounders since arriving at Kentucky in 2009.

"We just sat down one night and decided we wanted to go somewhere where we knew we could win once we got there," Andrew said. "I know his track record, of course. He has a lot of high draft picks as point guards. I just want to get there first and become better every day."

The addition of the Harrison twins is a huge first step toward yet another top-ranked recruiting class for the Wildcats. They're also drawing interest from the likes of forwards Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Marcus Lee, among others.

Andrew, a 6-foot-5 point guard, is the No. 4 overall player in his class. Aaron, a 6-foot-5 scorer, is just ahead him at No. 3. By themselves, the two form the core of a backcourt capable of propelling the Wildcats deep into the NCAA tournament yet again once they arrive in Lexington.

As huge an addition as the Harrison twins are for Kentucky, it's an even bigger blow to Maryland not to get them.

Had the Wildcats swung and missed on Andrew and Aaron, other promising guards would have been clamoring to take their place. But for Maryland, the Harrison twins' decision is the difference between the Terps being a good team or reentering the nation's elite.

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