Posted On: 02/22/16 6:45 AM
Winning in the game of life comes down to having strong evidence that the future will be filled with joy and success.
The joint future of mirror twin centers Brett Haeffner and A.J. Haeffner is certain to include plenty of success, and even more winning.
Earlier this month the Haeffner twins and Anthony Polite helped St. Andrew’s School (Boca Raton, Florida) to a District Title. Afterwards they advanced to the Regional Final. Though they fell short of the state run they envisioned, both 6-foot-10 bigs, A.J. and Brett enjoyed dramatic individual improvements.
“Personally I have met a lot of my goals,” said Brett Haeffner. “I have been able to improve my game. I can hit face-up shots. I can get into the basket and take a couple of dribbles.”
Whereas Brett literally expanded his game out onto the floor, A.J. hunkered down and anchored the team’s defense. Like a goalkeeper he surveyed the entire field of play, both helping teammates and hindering foes.
“My game has been specifically focused on a lot of defense and rebounding,” said A.J. Haeffner. “I have been assigned a lot more of the 5-work.”
Two years ago the mobility of Brett was really good, but both he and A.J. lacked confidence around the rim. They were big kids, but still learning how powerful they could be.
As with all high school centers, Brett and A.J. dealt with that initial awkwardness of physically adapting.
“It is always a process,” said A.J. “You always have that awkward phase. We are getting to the end of that. Every year you are able to do something you didn’t think you would ever be able to do.”
Asked if they are done growing and comfortable bounding around underneath and above the rim now, A.J. thoughtfully speculated.
“It is hard to say,” said A.J. Haeffner. “Will I have another growth spurt? You never know. My dad grew two inches in college. I am able to do a lot more than I used to. We are a lot more comfortable. We are grabbing control.”
The development is coming around and the production is meeting the potential. Double-figure rebounding games are more likely. A.J. is proud of his lockdown man-to-man defense. He no longer feels at the mercy of the much shorter, quicker forwards.
Where once the occasional 6-foot-4 forwards danced around unimpeded, now A.J. is able to provide a foreboding roadblock.
“It has been a big year for me locking guys now,” said A.J. Haeffner. “If a guy averages 20 I am going to limit him to six tonight.”
Seeking their first D1 offer the Haeffner twins have visited Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Brown, and Yale. The family popped into the Northeast last June. In the mean time Harvard, Brown, and Columbia stopped by to evaluate the 6’10” brothers. Stanford Assistant Coach Charles Payne dropped by.
Stanford is a curious place for athletic recruiting. Because they want to ensure they are only bringing in good-to-elite students the Cardinal do not often offer scholarships until after a student’s sophomore year, or later.
The football program prefers recruits take, at a minimum, two A.P. classes their senior year.
This will not be difficult for the Haeffner brothers. Tall in stature, the imposing minds of Brett and A.J. place them in enviable territory academically.
Unlike most teenagers, A.J. Haeffner and his brother devote significant time to homework and school preparation. Considering their basketball time commitment this can be challenging.
“The main key is getting the work done before the game,” said Brett. “Say we have a road game, you are not going to be able to focus on homework before the game. I talk to my teachers and say, ‘Hey, I am going to a game tomorrow. Can you get me my assignments now?’ Preemptive stuff too.”
Time management is something many college entrants struggle with, but the twins are already adapting to the demanding student-athlete lifestyle.
“You need to study ahead,” said Brett. “You lose essentially an evening or afternoon. You have to look ahead.”
Entering their final AAU season, the Haeffners have a solid recruiting foundation. They have evaluated several potential landing spots, but also covet more offers.
In addition to the many Ivy League visits taken, the Haeffners also have pinpointed elite academic options in the DIII ranks.
“Williams,” said Brett Haeffner. “Amherst. M.I.T. Johns Hopkins. Carnegie Mellon.”
Each of these schools is unquestionably a rigorous institution. The popular trend of selecting the best mix of academic and athletic options might just continue with A.J. and Brett Haeffner.
“Williams is one of, if not the top, liberal arts school in the nation,” said Brett Haeffner. “M.IT. is one of the best technical schools in the nation. They are great schools.”
Also, Colgate is a school tracking the twins.
“They have not offered us,” said Brett. “We have talked to them, sent texts and stuff. They are trying to get us to go up and visit.”
William & Mary coaches are also connecting. Proven students, proven athletes. Both A.J. and Brett are accustomed to winning. Which college wants to win with them?