Twins can mean double trouble

sports@macon.comApril 14, 2014 

When Georgia Tech signed twins Lance and Lawrence Austin of Lamar County to football scholarships in February, it brought other “doublets” to mind.

The Austin brothers, who will play in the Yellow Jackets’ defensive backfield, each stand at 5-foot-8, weigh 178 pounds and are identical twins. They led the Trojans to a 14-1 record and a runner-up finish in the GHSA Class AA football playoffs during the 2013 season. We will watch with interest to see which of the brothers turns out to be the better collegiate player.

The most prominent twins in the football world that I can recall are Tiki and Rondi Barber. The identical twins both played collegiately at Virginia and then went on to NFL careers.

Tiki, a running back, was a second-round pick in the 1997 draft by the New York Giants and played his entire career in New York before leaving the game in 2007 as the team’s all-time leading rusher. Ronde, a third-round pick of Tampa Bay, spent his entire 16-year career as a cornerback with the Buccaneers, where he was a member of their winning Super Bowl team in 2002. It would be difficult to pick who was the better player.

Two sets of twins made their mark in the NBA. Going back to the 1960s, you have the Van Arsdales, Tom and Dick. I suppose if there had been triplets surely you would have Harry.

Both were standouts at Indiana as collegians before taking their talents to the professional ranks. Both played 12 seasons, and both were three-time all-stars. What would you expect since they are identical? Dick did average better than 16 points a game, slightly better than Tom’s 15 per game. I couldn’t pick the better of this duo.

Closer to home in the 1980s, we had the Grant brothers, Harvey and Horace, also identical, who played their high school basketball at Hancock Central before signing on with Clemson. Horace spent his entire career with the Tigers, where he was ACC Player of the Year in 1987, while Harvey was there just one season before going to a Kansas junior college and then finishing out his college days at Oklahoma.

Horace gets the nod as the better of the two. He averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in his 17-year career and played on four NBA championship teams, while Harvey averaged 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 12 seasons in the league. Both were first-round draft choices.

Another set of twins currently playing in the NBA are Marcus and Markieff Morris, who are with the Phoenix Suns. Both were first-round draft choices coming out of Kansas, Markieff by Phoenix and Marcus by Houston.

Curtis Strange is more famous than his identical twin Allan. Curtis, the hall-of-fame golfer, was a member of a national championship golf team at Wake Forest before going on to a professional career that saw him win 28 times, including the U.S. Open in 1988 and 1989. Allan attended East Tennessee State on a golf scholarship and played briefly on the PGA tour, but his career winnings were less than $9,000. He is now a successful financial broker.

Identical twins Jose and Ozzie Canseco both made it to the big leagues in baseball. Jose, who admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, played 17 years in the majors, while Ozzie managed just three seasons. Jose had a career batting average of .266 with 462 home runs and 1,407 RBI, while Ozzie had only 13 hits total and four RBI with a .200 batting average.

In tennis, twins Mike and Bob Bryan have dominated doubles competition, ranked No. 1 for almost 300 weeks. They have combined for 15 grand slam titles.

The Georgia women’s basketball team has had two sets of twins play for them. Macon natives Camille and Miriam Lowe were the first, and they were followed by Kelly and Coco Miller, who both play in the WNBA. The Bulldogs’ football team had the Ogletree twins, Zander and Alec.

Mercer had a pair of twins who were athletes: John and James Hughes played both basketball and baseball for the Bears back in the mid-1950s. Baseball pitchers Mark and Michael Mimbs wore the Orange and Black in the early 1990s before going on to the professional ranks.

And the Kentucky men’s basketball team featured a set of twins on this year’s roster in Aaron and Andrew Harrison. The big question about them: Are they good enough to be one-and-done in Lexington and headed for the NBA draft in June?

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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