Terrence Phillips: Junior Primer

Life as a younger brother isn't always easy. While many assume that big brother will take on the greater hardships on the path to adulthood, sometimes they can leave behind a nearly impossible standard.

Legacy is a critical aspect of sport. Athletes push themselves to torturous, even dangerous lengths to achieve it, and fans soak it all up with abandon. It's why recruitniks still argue about high school players from the past, even when those players' trajectories ultimately carried them into entirely different realms.

Terrence Phillips easily could resent his family legacy. The younger brother of NBA performer Brandon Jennings, Phillips emerged very early — as in middle school — onto the grassroots consciousness.

Let's go ahead and establish this upfront: Phillips isn't his older brother. At times, you get the sense that he gets overlooked precisely for that reason, and not being as good as his brother means he's not good at all.

If that sounds preposterous, that's because it is. Phillips has proved this season at Oak Hill that he's a good little point guard. Little, because he's 5-10. Good, because he has been a standout performer for the Warriors this season despite playing alongside high-major senior signees.

Phillips is a quick and darting playmaker with an excellent first step. His challenge has been to complete plays in the lane, but actually getting there? No problem.

His improvement became clear at December's Chick-Fil-A Classic. With Wake Forest-bound floor general Shelton Mitchell out due to injury, Phillips seamlessly stepped into a role of greater prominence and played very effectively. He scores well in transition and combines his speed with a better understanding of how to release a shot in traffic. He also has become a solid playmaker who's learning how to distribute and keep a crew of talented teammates involved.

In addition to playing taller than his height, Phillips must become a more reliable jump shooter. He has been inconsistent during my viewings, at best, and that aspect of his game requires a significant upgrade. Meanwhile, continuing to gain strength — he does have broad shoulders — will help him on both ends of the court.

At this juncture, high-majors have begun to warm to him. He reportedly holds an offer from Auburn, and Virginia Tech, Virginia, Oregon State and others also have initiated pursuit.

These coaches aren't recruiting Brandon, they're recruiting Terrence. Whatever happens from here, Phillips has established his place on the prospect board and will have an opportunity to craft his own legacy.

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