One of North Carolina's Wear twins was stretching for a layup in practice last week when his brother tried to block him - eventually leaving both in a tangled, tussling, sibling heap.
"Even before they hit the floor, they were getting on each other, yapping about who was fouled, who did what wrong," UNC teammate Dexter Strickland said, grinning at the memory. "The rest of us just watched and laughed, because that's what they do - they're brothers, they're competitive, and that's how they make each other better."
There's a lot of that going around the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, as an unprecedented three sets of brothers are teamed together at three different schools, adding a new double-twist to old league rivalries.
On Jan. 3, Duke forwards Miles and Mason Plumlee helped beat Clemson's Trevor and Devin Booker, marking the first time in league history one set of brothers faced another; the eighth-ranked Blue Devils play Boston College tonight. Also tonight, the Bookers face the Wear twins and No. 12 UNC at Littlejohn Coliseum, and there will be three more sibling showdowns before the end of the regular season.
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"When my brother and I played together in the late '50s, that was pretty rare," said Ed Krajack, who teamed with his big brother George at Clemson in 1958-59 and 1959-60, one of nine previous brother combinations to play together in the ACC. "But three sets of brothers at the same time? That's unique."
BOOKERS CONTINUE A TRADITION
The Krajacks were the first brothers to team together after the ACC was formed in 1953. But the Bookers - 6-foot-7 Trevor, a senior ACC player of the year candidate, and 6-8 Devin, a freshman rated as a four-star recruit by Scout.com - are just the latest in a line of siblings at Clemson.
During the second game of 1911-12, Clemson's inaugural season of basketball, James and John Erwin both started and combined for 74 of their team's 78 points in a 78-6 victory over the Butler Guards. Then Randy and Richie Mahaffey poured in 62 points in a 1967 overtime victory over Virginia. Brothers Tom and Donnie Mahaffey (who played together in 1961-62), and Harvey and Horace Grant (1984-85) also teamed for the Tigers.
But none of the brothers combined for more than 40 points again until Trevor Booker poured in 31, and Devin added 10 last month in a 79-57 win over Western Carolina.
"It has been cool to play with my brother, see accomplishments like that," Trevor said. "I think it makes us closer."
Trevor and Devin are three years apart and grew up playing on their neighborhood basketball hoop in Whitmire, S.C., competing against their two other brothers and various cousins. They honed the skills they learned from their mother, who won a state championship in high school.
"Our mom had a lot of influence; she would show us her accolades ... and we wanted to accomplish a lot, too," Devin said.
Devin said he fell in love with Clemson by watching Trevor play there. He liked the atmosphere, the coaches - and knew if he chose the Tigers, he'd have no choice but to improve. His brother would make sure of it.
"If I catch him in the post, most of the time he's the most physical opponent I play in practice, so when he's physical and pushes me out of the paint, I just go back at him," said Devin, who is averaging 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. "He's making me stronger and better."
And Trevor, despite the school records he has already set, feels the same way. "I know he probably looks at the things I do on the court, so I try to raise my intensity up, probably more than if he wasn't here," said Trevor, who is averaging 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Then he grinned. "I know he's going to try to outshine me, and I can't let that happen."
PLUMLEES STAYING TOGETHER
For Duke's Plumlee brothers, playing together in college wasn't as much about competition - although there's still plenty of that - as it was continuity. But there's a twist: Usually, the younger brother follows the older one. But in this case, it was the younger sibling, Mason, who committed to Duke, first.
"I guess we did sort of do things in reverse," Mason said. "But it's great how it worked out."
The brothers, who hail from Warsaw, Ind., transferred together to Arden's Christ School during high school and pondered playing for the same college team. But they ultimately decided to separate to different coasts when Miles - 11/2 years older than his brother, but only one grade ahead in high school - committed to Stanford. Mason, the higher-ranked recruit, chose Duke.
Both were happy with their decisions until Cardinal coach Trent Johnson left for LSU.
"At that point, [Duke] was really the only other school that caught my eye because being able to play with my brother was a huge thing," said Miles, a sophomore who is averaging 7.1 points and 6.2 rebounds and has started every game. "When I originally committed to Stanford, I wanted to go somewhere different. And if he wanted to come along, I thought that would be fine. I didn't worry about it too much, but then when I got to thinking about it again. ... I guess I just had a change of heart, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. Because how many people have a chance to play college basketball with their brother?"
Still, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski didn't offer Miles Plumlee a scholarship until he talked to Mason, first.
"Coach K obviously knew he was going to be a good player, and he came to me and asked, 'Would you like to play with your brother?' And I was like, 'Yeah, of course,' " said Mason, who is averaging 5.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg. "... Before he made his decision at Stanford, one of our things was, we did want to play together, but we wanted to do what was best for us individually, as well. Now that he's here, it couldn't have worked out any better."
The Plumlees have become a big part of Duke's big rotation, and they are only the second pair of sibilings to play for the Blue Devils at the same time, joining Justin and Ryan Caldbeck, who shared the court in 1998-99. The Plumlees could also become the first trio of brothers to play at the same ACC school at the same time if little brother Marshall, currently a junior at The Christ School, accepts Duke's scholarship offer.
"We've always been pretty competitive with each other," Mason said. "But the great thing about being on the same team is, it's all for the same cause."
If you want to see true brotherly competition, check out UNC's Wear twins in practice. Or playing video games. Or nitpicking at each other between possessions of games, when they're on the floor at the same time.
"I'm big on, it's not only what you say but how you say it when you're correcting your teammate. There's a thing you can say that will get the point across and still be positive," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "I am batting 0-for-800 with those two, because how can I change something where they've been griping at each other for 18 years?"
The bickering is never mean-spirited, the brothers said, just their way of trying to improve each others' games. They first learned basketball from their dad, David Sr., who played professionally overseas, and they've been communicating that way since they were toddlers wrestling on their parents' living room floor. They said they appreciate the candid input. No one knows their strengths and weaknesses better than each other, which is one of the reasons why there was no doubt they wanted to play at the same school in college.
"Going to separate schools - that would have been different," said David, who grew up with his brother in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Differences can be hard to find when it comes to the forwards. Both stand 6-10, although Travis is a hair taller and weighs 10 more pounds (235). Personality-wise, David is a bit more sedate.
"I'm more serious, he's more laid-back, more easy-going," David said. "Being the older brother [by a minute], I think I more look out for us, make sure we're doing the right thing, where he's more easy about things, not as worried about things."
And on the court this season, David (2.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg, two starts) is playing more at small forward while Travis (3 ppg, 1.8 rpg) has stayed in the post. "Which is a twist," David said, "because in high school, he used to play more on the perimeter, and I played more on the post."
No wonder they tend to "correct" each other so much. With brotherly love, of course.
"We're pretty critical of each other, but it's only because we want to make each other better," Travis said. "We just want to do everything we can to win. ... And isn't that what brothers do?"