Former Kentucky guard Dirk Minniefield has known the Harrison twins since they were 5 and says they are as good as advertised.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The first recruiting evaluation period is underway, which means The ‘Book took a trip to Indianapolis and saw Rick Pitino, Tom Crean, Mike Krzyzewski, Mark Gottfried, Tubby Smith, Sean Miller, Bob Huggins, Richard Pitino, Steve Masiello and dozens of other Division I head coaches.
That also means plenty of good nuggets for this week's notebook.
The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, have been on The ‘Book's recruiting radar for several years. If everything goes as planned, they're expected to be the starting backcourt on John Calipari's fifth Kentucky team next season. They're expected to follow the one-and-done growth chart of John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague.
Dirk Minniefield has known the twins since they were 5. He started working with them in suburban Houston when they were 8. He started thinking they could play in the NBA when they were 12.
"When they got a little older and started wondering if I knew what I was talking about, I told them to go look me up on You Tube," Minniefield said, laughing.
The twins saw that Minniefield won a Kentucky high school title in 1979, played four solid seasons at UK and then played parts of three seasons in the NBA.
"Then they started listening to me a little more," Minniefield said.
Minniefield's last conversation with the twins was several weeks ago. This is what he told them:
"You think you know what's ahead of you (in college), but you don't. You can't. Nobody can. It's bigger than anything you can imagine, day by day. It was bigger than I imagined and I grew up in Lexington. But just take care of your business and you'll be fine."
Minniefield was in Indianapolis this week watching his son, Darin, compete for the Houston Defenders at the adidas Invitational AAU tournament. This is what Minniefield had to say to UK fans awaiting the start of the Harrison Twins Era:
"They're everything people say they are. You look out here right now at the guys who look like they're playing hard. They don't touch the twins. They're at another level of competitiveness. So is Julius Randle (another UK recruit from Texas).
"I thought all three of them would be pros from the time they were 12. I haven't seen anything to make me change my mind. They're the real deal. Trust me on that."
Minniefield, who still lives in the Houston area, works as a counselor in the NBA players assistance program.
In an interesting twist, Aaron Harrison, father of the twins, coaches Darin Minniefield. Minniefield is also a Division I recruit. He is scheduled to play at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., next season. Minniefield is a slender, 6-foot-1 guard.
"He's a good player," Aaron Harrison said. "He's just been on some teams where they haven't let him shoot the ball. We're working with him to be more aggressive. He'll play Division I basketball somewhere."
Minniefield has a scholarship offer from Florida State, which is coached by Leonard Hamilton, who was an assistant at UK when Dirk played for the Wildcats. Former UK coach Tubby Smith, now at Texas Tech, watched the Defenders Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis.
Although Aaron Harrison was happy to discuss Darin Minniefield, he said that he has been asked by the University of Kentucky not to talk about his sons. Harrison said his sons were in Lexington, but they are not enrolled in summer school at UK.
But Aaron Harrison said that he planned to drive to Lexington to visit them after his team finished competition in Indianapolis.
"How far is that drive?" he said.
The ‘Book advised scheduling for 3 ½ hours – and taking his time through Louisville.
Add Indiana University to the list of at least 22 schools that have offered a scholarship to Stephen Zimmerman, the 7-foot center from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. Scout ranks Zimmerman the top prospect in the 2015 class while Rivals has Zimmerman second. Zimmerman had a solid week playing for the Dream Vision team in Indianapolis.
"Big Zimm is a great kid from a great family," said Frank Burlison, a veteran West Coast scout. "I think he's the top prospect in 2015 – and I've seen them all."
Scott Snider, the father of U of L recruit Quentin Snider, said that his son has been working on strengthening his core muscles. He said gaining weight has been difficult for Quentin because of his unrelenting travel schedule this summer but that he is working with a personal trainer.
Snider played with his future U of L teammate JaQuan Lyle from Evansville Bosse at the adidas Invitational, but the Louisville Magic were eliminated Saturday morning, losing to the Eric Gordon-Keeton team, 72-47.
The Magic were scheduled to play their games at a secondary gym in Noblesville, which didn't thrill the players or coaching staff. They wondered if the Magic were punished because of previous dust-ups between Magic coach Ellis Myles and officials – and because the Magic switched from adidas to Under Armour sneakers.
Freshmen Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams are the two newcomers to the Indiana University basketball team that most observers mention when asked to pick the players who will impact the 2014 Hoosiers' team. With seven players gone from last season's Big Ten regular-season champs team, including four 1,000-point scorers, plenty of playing time is available.
But don't leave these two names off the list – Evan Gordon and Devin Davis.
Gordon is a fifth-year senior who arrives from Arizona State, where he averaged 10 points per game and made nearly 35 percent of his shots last season. Davis is a freshman forward from Indianapolis who loves to get his points on the offensive glass.
Gordon could slide into the backcourt next to point guard Yogi Ferrell or serve as an instant offense option off the bench. His energy and shooting have been impressive during summer drills.
Davis starred for the Indiana high school all-stars as they swept Kentucky during the annual summer series. He's actually been working with Gordon's father, Eric, to improve his ball-handling, shooting and game away from the basket at the E3 Basketball Academy in Indianapolis.
"Everybody is talking about all the talent Indiana lost from last season, and they've lost a lot," one coach said about the Hoosiers. "But when you really look at their team, I think they're going to be deeper and more athletic. They don't have experience but they've got more guys who can play.
"Their bench didn't really help them last year. This year it will."
If you're reading this story, The ‘Book doesn't have to tell you who Cliff Alexander is. You already know. You're probably trying to send him direct messages on Twitter.
If you're a Louisville fan, you're telling him why he should play for Rick Pitino and U of L and not play for Kentucky.
If you're a UK fan, you're telling why he should play for John Calipari and not play for Louisville.
Alexander is a 6-9 power forward/center hybrid from Curie High School in Chicago. He has cut his recruiting list to 10, but says that he only plans to take official visits to four schools – U of L, Arizona, Kansas, Memphis and one other. Don't try to overanalyze the visit schedule. Alexander has already been to UK on an unofficial trip.
Earlier in the week, after Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy announced that guard Marshall Henderson had been indefinitely suspended, The ‘Book was convinced that Henderson would return to play his senior season for the Rebels.
Henderson had survived flashing the middle finger at the Auburn student section. He'd fired ice cubes into the crowd during the Kentucky game in Oxford without hearing a discouraging word. He'd already flipped off the crowd again during the NCAA Tournament.
Let's face it: Marshall Henderson is a punk, but he's a punk that helps Ole Miss win games, gets fans into the its previously half-filled arena and has people talking about Ole Miss basketball in the summer.
Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in his car during his latest dust-ups, and on two other occasions police have warned about playing music too loud in his residence and his car. Sorry, Marshall. The ‘Book isn't convinced even Andy Kennedy can look the other way any more.