Written by Corbett Smith
What a draw in 5A final! FM Marcus' ace vs. FB Travis' talented pair
When transcendent basketball talents meet to decide a state title, championship day at the UIL boys basketball tournament gets a little more electric.
That will happen Saturday as Flower Mound Marcus’ Marcus Smart will face Fort Bend Travis twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison at 8:30 p.m. for the Class 5A title.
Smart is a consensus top-15 player nationally in this year’s senior class, while the Harrisons are equally esteemed: Andrew is the top-rated junior nationally, while Aaron is No. 7 in his class.
It’s the biggest matchup of marquee players in a UIL final since Beaumont Ozen’s Kendrick Perkins (No. 10 in the 2003 class) met Lincoln’s Chris Bosh (No. 9 in 2002) for the 2002 Class 4A championship.
“It’ll be one of the best games that I think I would have seen here, and I’ve seen a lot,” said San Antonio Warren coach Tim Weaver, who played and lost against both this season.
Weaver said that the closest he’d seen to the Harrison twins in ability and athleticism was Smart, who Weaver’s team faced Nov. 18.
Smart is as physically gifted as they come, powerful as a bull — with great explosion and balance. But he’s developed from a post player into a skilled small forward with all the attributes a coach could want.
Smart scored 23 points, with 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks in the semifinals against Garland Naaman Forest.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams told Flower Mound Marcus coach Danny Henderson that the 6-4, 220-pound Smart could play four positions in the ACC.
“He said, ‘I don’t know where he’d play, but I know this, we won’t be able to keep him off the floor,’” Henderson said.
Henderson said it is Smart’s will to win that separates him from other elite players.
Looking at Smart’s accomplishments, it’s easy to see why Henderson believes that. Smart has won several high-profile AAU events, including back-to-back titles at the Adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, playing alongside his high school teammates Phil Forte and Nick Banyard. In Smart’s high school career, Marcus is 114-6 over three seasons, has made three straight trips to Austin and won the 2011 5A title — with Smart named MVP.
The Harrison twins post a formidable obstacle for Marcus’ repeat chances.
Both are 6-5, with Aaron a minute older and 5 pounds heavier at 210 pounds.
Andrew is a point guard with an NBA-ready body and great ball-handling skills, averaging 12.6 points and six assists per game.
Aaron shares the same skill set, but has taken the scoring load for Travis (36-3), averaging a team-high 18.9 points per game.
When Andrew got into foul trouble in the semifinal, Aaron picked up the slack — scoring 30 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Andrew still managed nine points and six assists in 22 minutes.
Coming into the state tournament, Weaver said he didn’t think that Marcus would be challenged if it faced Travis.
He has since changed his mind.
“There was only one of him,” Weaver said, referring to Smart. “There’s two of them.”