Jamir and JaQuan Harris never imagined being teammates at the collegiate level.
There’s a sizeable age gap between the two basketball-playing brothers, so the idea had always seemed like a mathematical impossibility when the guards were growing up in North Brunswick. But the NCAA’s pandemic-inspired decision to grant athletes an extra year of eligibility allowed Jamir, a grad student, to prolong his career at Seton Hall. JaQuan, meanwhile, is a freshman with the Pirates.
“I never thought I’d have the chance to play with my younger brother,” Jamir says. “So when the opportunity presented itself, on top of having the chance to play for [Seton Hall’s new head coach Shaheen Holloway], I thought it was the perfect fit.
“It’s a special feeling.”
It’s also a feeling that two other Seton Hall players can relate to, oddly enough. With Dre and Tae Davis on the squad as well, the Pirates have two sets of brothers for the first time in program history. The unique situation has helped the Hall develop a literal family atmosphere in Holloway’s first year at the helm.
Unlike the Harrises, being teammates is nothing new for the Davises.
Tae, a freshman forward, and Dre, a junior wing, competed together at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where their father, D’Andre, coached. The two had originally planned on reuniting at Louisville, where Dre began his college career before transferring to Seton Hall this past off-season. Tae ultimately decommitted from Louisville, which endured coaching changes and scandal, and followed his brother to South Orange. But the two insist they were not some sort of package deal.
“We were recruited individually, and we both felt like this was the right place to be,” Dre says. “It just happened to work out that way, and I’m happy to be here together.”
Adds Tae, “It’s kind of crazy how it all worked out.”
The Davises wanted a “fresh canvas,” as Dre puts it, and had reasons for picking Seton Hall aside from each other. Both wanted to play for Holloway, however, after he led Jersey City’s Saint Peter’s Peacocks on an all-time underdog run in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Fortunately for the Davises, Holloway happily accommodated the duo. The coach has received modest production from them within his ensemble rotation: Dre is averaging 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 20 minutes per game, while Tae has added 3.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 14.8 minutes per game.
“Those two guys battle, they give me everything they’ve got,” Holloway says. “They work hard. Their father was a coach, so they understand what hard work is.”
That’s not to say the Harrises don’t. But a knee injury has kept JaQuan off the court since the preseason and will prevent him from playing alongside Jamir in an actual game this season, the older brother’s final year of eligibility.
Jamir is averaging just 4.4 points, 1.2 assists and 22.2 minutes per game entering Seton Hall’s high-stakes matchup with No. 15 UConn on Wednesday.
While not all has gone according to plan, the Jersey natives have relished the opportunity to be teammates in their home state. Despite having a few years between them, Jamir and JaQuan spend plenty of time together off the court. Jamir is in his second season at Seton Hall, so he can show his little brother the ins and outs of the campus and the best nearby spots for soul food, in addition to helping him with the playbook and time management. Prior to JaQuan’s injury, Jamir had been eager to chase rebounds for his little bro when the two wanted to get extra work in.
Jamir reminds JaQuan that he’s poised to attract attention as a Division I athlete, so it’s important to make smart decisions. He also preaches patience and hard work, as nothing will be guaranteed to JaQuan next season when he returns to good health.
“I try to teach him as much as I possibly can,” Jamir says.
Tae and Dre share a similar relationship. Even though they are both in their first year at SHU, Dre has college experience that he and his brother can lean on.
“He knows more than me. He has more knowledge than me,” Tae humbly admits when asked about his big bro. “I’m always open to listening to him. He’s been here before, so I’m always open to his advice.”
But Dre is also more hands off than he was when the two played together in high school. He trusts Tae’s basketball IQ, even if the college game comes with a learning curve.
“At that time, it was more me teaching, guiding,” Dre says. “Now he knows what to expect. He knows where to be, how to play the game…. I can sit back a little bit and be comfortable with how prepared he is coming into this.”
The Davis brothers room together—as the college veteran, Dre handles the cooking—and the Harrises see each other plenty. But both younger brothers take time to lead their own lives off the court. Tae and JaQuan have different friends and classes to worry about and are just beginning to find their way, not only as basketball players, but as college students and young adults. Dre and Jamir realize that sometimes requires space.
On the court, however, sibling rivalries bleed into practice. “When we get in between the lines, it’s very competitive,” Jamir says—but that’s not a bad thing.
No brother wants to be outplayed by the other, and the freshmen are already looking to prove themselves. Things have gotten chippy, but the rest of the Pirates feed on the added intensity.
“The younger brothers are always trying to outcompete the older brothers,” says senior forward Tyrese Samuel. “The older brothers never want that to happen, so it just adds a little more fire to practice.”
Dre adds that “it kind of feels like a battle” when the siblings match up. “But iron sharpens iron. We have a great relationship on the court. We both want to see each other succeed.”
That desire for shared success has spread to the rest of Seton Hall’s roster. Even though the Pirates are 11-8 overall and 4-4 in Big East play, this was supposed to be a transition year with Holloway taking over. While winning is the goal, the coach is also focused on establishing his own culture at his alma mater.
Creating a family feeling is part of that. Having actual family members on the team seems to help.
“A lot of people talk about chemistry. That’s even more chemistry that you add to the team, and then you add it to everybody else,” Tae reasons when asked about the siblings’ impact. “[Dre’s] my brother, but I feel like all these guys are my brothers on the team.”
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