If there's one thing the Houston Defenders Select wanted to show, it's that age is nothing but a number. Because of how well the team has played throughout the summer, many forget that the team consists mostly of players from the Class of 2013.
Wednesday evening, age was irrelevant, and the young-but-talented Defenders won the AAU Super Showcase championship by defeating Massachusetts power BABC, 55-45, in a nationally televised game played in Orlando, Fla. Only two of the Defenders are members of the Class of 2012.
Two of the 2013s caught the attention of the crowd and scouts all night. Aaron Harrison made 7 of 13 shots and finished with a game-high 18 points. He and twin brother Andrew Harrison, the point guard and the top-ranked 2013 in the country by Rivals.com, formed a reliable backcourt duo that frustrated a BABC team that wanted to slow the tempo of the game down.
"Their guards were small. I thought I could get in the lane and create for other people," Andrew Harrison said in a post-game television interview. "Aaron was filling it up like he usually does."
If it wasn't the Harrisons contributing, it was high-flying forward Derrick Griffin handling business. Griffin, one of the most versatile, athletic players in the entire tournament, had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Shaquille Cleare also had a double-double for the Defenders, finishing with 10 points and 10 boards.
Christian Sanders and Clyde Santee also had solid games against a BABC team that features one of the top 2013s in the country in super-athletic shot-blocker Nerlens Noel. BABC also featured 2012 Georges Niang, an Iowa State commitment who is steadily improving his stock with solid all-around play. Niang had 18 points, while Noel finished with 10 points and two blocks before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
The Defenders, coached by Aaron Harrison Sr., cruised in pool play with wins over the Fairfax (Va.) Stars, the Wisconsin Playground Elite and Baltimore Elite. From there, the Defenders advanced to bracket play and took out the Arkansas Wings (59-46), Each 1 Teach 1 (73-61) and Team Takeover (60-51). For the tournament, the Defenders won their seven games by an average of more than 12 points.
"I hate losing," Aaron Harrison said. "It's the worst feeling ever."
Andrew Harrison added: "We're just trying to prove every time we're on the floor, we're the best."