Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
As Kentucky’s Booker, Ulis Continue to Surpass Harrisons, NBA Personnel Suggest Twins Should Stay on Campus
As Kentucky freshmen guards Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker continue to surpass the Harrison twins in their play and perceived upside, several NBA personnel have suggested that Andrew and Aaron Harrison should consider remaining on campus for another year.
“They both could use more time in college to grow their games,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv. “Truth be told, a lot of scouts like Ulis and Booker more. [The Harrisons] both have improved but another year will only benefit them.”
A second NBA scout added that the Harrisons “probably” should stay “because their draft stock has dropped. Both [are] at best second-rounders.”
One NBA executive said of the twins: “They are unique because they are twins. If they were viewed as individuals without the UK politics, Ulis and Booker would be starting.”
It’s probably the media’s fault that the Harrisons are in the situation they are. We — along with the NBA personnel we talk to — hyped the twins up early in their careers because they were McDonald’s All-Americans going to Kentucky.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com both once had Andrew Harrison as a Top 10 pick.
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com had both twins in the lottery in June of 2013.
Now, not so much.
Ford wrote in a recent ESPN chat that if the NBA Draft were held today, the Harrisons would go undrafted.
Givony recently moved Andrew to No. 46 in the 2015 Draft and Aaron to No. 50.
At the same time, he elevated the the 6-5 Booker to No. 20 in 2015 — 30 spots ahead of Aaron Harrison.
Givony also has Ulis as the No. 34 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He’d probably be much higher if he were a few inches taller than 5-9.
The Harrisons probably wanted to go to the NBA after last season, but after the feedback they got from NBA folks they opted to stay.
During Kentucky’s run to the NCAA final last year, Givony had Aaron at No. 25 and Andrew at No. 30. So even after their tournament run and another half year of a college basketball to progress, they’ve continued to plummet in his mock draft.
“If they’re able to win the national championship, they’ll be part of one of the great quasi-Cinderella stories of all time in the NCAA Tournament,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told SNY.tv in April. “Having said that, the translation of this stretch of games to their NBA futures remains a major mystery because people are going to look at the entire body of work of their freshmen year and try to project what kind of NBA players they become.
“I personally think that they’re not lottery picks and that each could end up being solid, if unspectacular journeyman-type players over time.”
Now, sources say, the Harrisons would like to get to the NBA after this season, but what if they opt to stay for their junior seasons?
It would have major implications for the Kentucky roster going forward.
The Wildcats currently have guards Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews signed for 2015 and are still in the mix for Malik Newman.
Newman is projected by DraftExpress.com as the No. 5 pick in 2016, while Brisoce is projected at No. 9.
If the Harrisons were to come back, and both Booker and Ulis were to stay, that would leave John Calipari with six guards who need playing time, along with Dominique Hawkins.
If Booker left and the twins stayed, he would have five.
Even with a platoon system, how would that work?
Obviously, if Booker and the Harrisons all left, Kentucky would have Ulis, Briscoe, Matthews plus Hawkins and potentially Newman should they land him. If only the Harrisons leave, Kentucky will have Ulis, Booker, Briscoe, Matthews and Hawkins.
“I’m going to be at Kentucky,” Briscoe told MassLive.com Saturday. “I haven’t played with them yet, but it doesn’t matter. I’m going to be at Kentucky.”
It remains to be seen who else will be there with him in the backcourt, but the NBA folks believe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Harrisons to stay in Lexington.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.