- Christopher Lawlor, High School Basketball
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The varsity team is normally reserved for the best players, but that isn't always the case. There's an unwritten rule in Texas, which applies to the University Interscholastic League, that freshmen cannot suit up for varsity teams. This is the only reason twin brothers Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison have not played varsity for Strake Jesuit High School.
Each averaged a triple-double, piling up points, assists and rebounds while creating highlight-reel material at the junior varsity level. Now they can unleash their high-major potential on the highest level of competition.
"They had a great year and continued their development as players," Strake Jesuit coach Wayne Jones said. "Things worked out and now they'll be a part of a young team this upcoming year; we're looking forward to that day."
The Harrison brothers are both 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds heading into the summer circuit, where they'll play for the Houston Defenders, coached by their father, Aaron Sr. Andrew is the thinking man's point guard, attacking the rim, finishing with either hand and locking down defenders. Aaron Jr. patrols the wing and has added another dimension to his all-around game -- a consistent jumper from 12-15 feet. Both also have great skills, possess a high basketball IQ and have the ability to "flip the switch" and dominate at any given time.
"They have the rare combination of size and strength for their age," said Reggie Rankin, ESPNU's national analyst. "You normally see kids their age [15 years old] and notice something is missing; not with these guys. They are tremendous physical specimens."
Strake Jesuit's third playmaker
The Harrisons aren't the only high-major players for the Crusaders. Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, a combo guard, is highly coveted. He's already getting serious looks from Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Houston, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Kansas, Stanford, Arizona and Minnesota.
When the live period commences in early July, Sulaimon will have played in several events with the Houston Hoops. That includes a tournament this weekend in Minnesota and a pair of Nike Elite Youth Basketball League weekends in Houston and Los Angeles.
Sulaimon, whose father is from Nigeria and mother from Jamaica, keeps it simple on the court.
"When you step on the court, I never take a play off. You can't rest; you can't ever give up," he said.
That was evident this season as Sulaimon carried the inexperienced Crusaders, posting 22.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game and earning all-district honors. He helped a rebuilding Strake Jesuit team to a 20-14 record and a berth in the regional semifinals after graduating several players to Division I last year.
"He's as good as a combo guard there is in the nation," said Jones. "I'll take him any day; he's that good."
According to Rankin, Sulaimon is one the best players in the 2012 class.
"He's more of a [shooting guard] than a [point]," said Rankin. "He can guard and defend either. Rasheed plays with great pace and urgency. He can take it to the rim and has a good midrange game. He'll be a high, high major player."
Put the Harrison brothers and Sulaimon on the same team and there are bound to be mismatches.
"Teams will have matchup problems guarding the three of us. We're all about the same height, long, tall and can distribute it. We'll have plenty of firepower at guard," said Sulaimon.
Tyler Sankes can feel he is close, really close.
"I'm getting better after each workout," he said.
The 6-7, 225-pound prospect (Class of 2012) from McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y., is brimming with potential. He demonstrated glimpses of post dominance, averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game.
"He's going to work hard this summer, strengthening his upper body," said McQuaid head coach Jack Ruppert. "He has a good figure but his body has to catch up with the curve."
The Knights advanced to the Class AA1, Section V final but lost to crosstown rival East (Rochester) 76-53. Sankes is one of two returning starters off a 13-8 squad which will feature young, exciting players.
"It'll be a four-guard attack and me in the middle," Sankes said.
McQuaid assistant Marty O'Sullivan, who played center for Fairfield and professionally in the ABA, thinks Sankes' best days are ahead of him.
"If he grows 2 or 3 inches, he'll be a dominant mid-major player," O'Sullivan said. "He has skill and is a late bloomer."
At 6-8, O'Sullivan tutors McQuaid's post players. Sankes has responded under his tutelage, becoming more aggressive and hitting the glass, especially on the offensive end.
"He's a couple of go-to post moves from becoming a big-time player," said O'Sullivan. "Tyler needs to play more with his back to the basket. He'll also need to work on his ball handling, but he's making progress."
This summer Sankes will play for the East Coast Fusion, coached by Cade Lemke, a former McQuaid standout and Virginia Cavalier. Several schools are tracking his progress, namely Colgate. Prep school is an also option, with The Hun School (Princeton, N.J.) most likely.
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today.