Siblings bring rivalry, intensity to D1 programs

Miles Plumlee refuses to let his younger brother get the best of

him at Duke. He’s even determined to top any dunks Mason throws

down in practice.

“Even if I’m not thinking about it, I get a little feeling in

my gut,” he said. “It’s always been there.”

There are sibling rivalries like the Plumlees’ playing out at

several Division I men’s programs. They’re often intensely

competitive, adding a feisty sense of family to their programs

during a long season.

“If you can have the same bond as the brothers have for the

rest of your team, you can really be special,” said Northwestern

State coach Mike McConathy, who coaches sons Michael and Logan in

Natchitoches, La. “Even though brothers get after one another at

some times, you don’t let someone else get after your brother.

“If your team takes that same attitude, then you’re fighting

for everybody.”

The list of schools with brothers playing together includes

Akron (Brett and Chris McKnight), Brown (Matt and Peter Sullivan),

Clemson (Trevor and Devin Booker), North Carolina (David and Travis

Wear), Oregon State (Josh and Seth Tarver) and South Dakota State

(Garrett and Griffan Callahan).

Top-ranked Kansas has two sets: Sophomore twins Marcus and

Markieff Morris, and freshmen Xavier and C.J. Henry.

Some have a clear big brother-little brother pecking order like

the Bookers or the McConathys, with Michael the Demons’ senior

starting point guard and Logan a junior reserve.

Other siblings wind up on the floor together or competing for

playing time.

The Sullivans start at Brown, while the Plumlees and Wears have

similar styles, meaning they have played stretches together then

found themselves cutting into each other’s minutes. That dynamic

was on display during the Blue Devils’ recent win against the Tar

Heels, with Miles starting but Mason logging twice as many minutes

with a significant contribution off the bench.

David Wear is seeing more minutes since Travis has been

sidelined with a sprained ankle.

As for the Jayhawks, Marcus Morris has emerged as one of KU’s

top scorers and Markieff is a key frontcourt reserve, while Xavier

Henry is one of the nation’s top rookies and C.J. is a walk-on

seeing spot duty.

While things have gone smoothly at Kansas, coach Bill Self said

brothers can adversely affect a team’s chemistry in cases when one

slips into a lesser role.

“I do think (brothers) can be huge assets to each other,” Self

said. “But I also think they could be detriments if one is happy

and the other is not happy, where misery loves company.”

He also knows that boys will be boys. The Morris twins offer a

reminder each time they swap jerseys in practice, a prank they’ve

attempted several times.

At North Carolina, coach Roy Williams recalled a practice

earlier this year in which the 6-foot-10 Wears – believed to be the

first twins to play for UNC – were guarding each other and ended up

in a heap under the basket. Williams said the two were “yapping at

each other” before they even hit the floor.

“They try to coach each other more than Coach can even coach

them,” North Carolina senior Deon Thompson said. “Coach doesn’t

really get too mad about it because he knows they’re brothers and

they’ve been doing it for 18 or 19 years. I don’t think there’s

going to be any stopping them now.”

And it doesn’t stop even when there’s no questioning who’s

clearly the first option. Clemson senior Trevor Booker has started

every game of his career and is the focus of the Tigers’ offense,

while Devin is a freshman reserve.

Yet even as Trevor helps his younger brother adjust to college,

he’s quick to promise that Devin won’t top him on the court “until

after I leave.”

“It’s a great experience, just to show him how it’s done,” he

said. “I know he’s probably watching me closer than anyone else,

so it’s good to have him on the team, teaching him things.”

Duke’s Plumlees are separated by 18 months and grew up arguing

about everything from Fruity Pebbles cereal – “He’d take half the

box in one sitting,” Mason griped – to who wore whose clothes or

who had the remote control last. That carried over to Durham, where

they had several pickup-game spats over the summer that heated up

enough for their Duke teammates to step in.

They didn’t plan to be at Duke together. Miles originally

committed to Stanford, but changed his mind when Trent Johnson left

the Cardinal for LSU. The Blue Devils’ 6-foot-10 sophomore has

started nearly every game up front this season. His year of

experience helped prepare Mason, a freshman who also stands


Both could get the chance to pass on their Duke experience a

third brother, Marshall. He is a 6-11 high school junior currently

being recruited by the Blue Devils among others. If he signs with

Duke, he would arrive in time for Miles’ senior season and give the

Blue Devils a trio of Plumlees – a first in the Atlantic Coast


“When you’re working in the driveway when you’re young, you’re

dreaming of playing at a big college, the NBA and all that,” Miles

said. “But we never thought we’d be on kind of the same journey


AP Sports Writers Doug Tucker in Lawrence, Kan., and Pete

Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C., contributed to this report.