By David Schuh | Men’s basketball columnist
Despite a subtle hairdo difference, freshmen guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison look the same. They talk the same, they act the same and they play the same too.
But they play separate positions, which makes their lives and performance under UK head coach John Calipari much different.
Andrew Harrison has a label on his back, one that has been branded there by the past heroics of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and every one of Calipari’s point guard in between. He is judged at their level, something that isn’t fair for anyone with four college games to their name.
Aaron Harrison, on the other hand, has it easier. He is Calipari’s shooting guard, a position the recruiting guru has had far less consistent success with.
Aaron Harrison is playing in an offense designed for him to do what he does best — score. He did it in high school and he’s doing it at UK. The difference is he has other quality teammates around him that aren’t his brother.
The Cats’ 87-49 win over Robert Morris University Sunday was a microcosm of their first four games in terms of the Harrison’s production.
Aaron Harrison had 19 points at halftime, setting a small-sampled career-high in just 15 minutes on the court. He added nine more in the second half for a team-high 28 points.
Andrew Harrison struggled much of the game. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two assists, but its more about the process for a Calipari point guard than individual stat lines.
“It’s all about energy,” Aaron Harrison said of what he is learning. “The biggest thing is just doing whatever you can to help your team win, even if it’s not scoring the ball. I’m just trying to learn that.”
In past years, fans and analysts alike have wondered in November and December if UK could reach its full potential with a struggling point guard.
It isn’t as loud today as it was for Brandon Knight or Marquis Teague, but years of late blooming could be an appropriate silencer for many.
Andrew Harrison needs time. He has to master an offense designed to benefit his teammates, yet one that cannot flourish without his consistent execution. He may have the longest way to go, but UK will fall short of its expectations if he doesn’t get there.
His brother has found his niche already. As a 6-foot-6-inch shooting guard amongst seven other McDonald’s All-Americans, he has the freedom to perform without the responsibility or pressure to lead.
The twins are progressing at different paces. When their performance meets their ability, UK will become a complete team. Until then, one brother will appear like he has a better grasp of his game than the other.
And when it all clicks, their success will match up, just like their birthday.