BY BRANDON WILFORE // Nov. 27, 2016 //
Out of 100 children born in the United States, three of them will have a twin. 3.1 percent of high school senior basketball players will make it to the next level. Combine those two statistics, and the odds of twins playing college basketball are slim.
Oh and don’t forget they are playing for the same college. These near-impossible odds were defied by Jaelen and Jordan George-Bellitti here at Curry College.
They grew up in Cambridge, Mass. with their mother Jasmine Bellitti and brothers Jermaine and Jacoby Houston. Basketball has been in their blood from a young age as they started playing in leagues at the age of five.
They both attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School where they played basketball. When asked about the school Jaelen said simply, “I loved it there.”
That love may very well have been enhanced by the Division 1 State Championship that the twins won together in their final year wearing Cambridge across their chests.
Despite their similar faces and jerseys, don’t judge a book by its cover.
One big difference the brothers mentioned was their personality. Jordan mentioned that even in his daily life, “I [like to] go about every task like it is my last chance.”
This passion doesn’t only translate to the hardwood either, as he prides himself inside the classroom as well. Jordan says that from an early age, his family taught him to always put school first. Now being in college, working hard behind classroom doors comes naturally.
Jaelen, an easy going kid who loves to laugh, talked about that family influence saying, “Our mom encourages us to be the best that we can.”
He showed some of that admiration for laughing when he answered the question, ‘How are you and your brother different’? With a big smile on his face, he said, “We look different.”
However, when he is needed to ditch that flashy smile and go to work, Jaelen gets in the zone with thoughts of his late friend, Davonte Neal.
Neal died of Leukemia in 2014 and whenever Jaelen feels like slacking, Neal comes to mind.
He is with him every minute on the court, as Jaelen wears orange bands for Leukemia awareness on his sneakers.
But when he does have the time to slack off and take a break from hitting the books or the Miller Field House gym to practice windmill dunks, Jaelen and Jordan still have that orange ball on their mind.
Jordan will take the time to watch and study basketball to add to his studious attitude. Even his twitter feed displays his passion for basketball, as almost all of the tweets are basketball-related.
Jaelen studies a little differently, turning on the old video game console to play NBA 2K or he’ll hang out with friends and play pick-up basketball.
The brothers went all-in on basketball, not even playing another sport in high school.
That specialization has led both of them to spend countless hours watching all the various styles of all the different players who have come in and out of the League. Jordan summed his game up by saying, “I try to play smart like LeBron James and jump like Vince Carter.”
Jaelen talked about Allen Iverson being his favorite NBA player because “He is a killer. He doesn’t fear anything.”
If you watch Jaelen play, you can clearly see that in him; driving the basketball toward the hoop against bigger guys who could be four or five years older. Jaelen doesn’t care, though; he will finish through, around, or even over you.
So, two brothers, good grades, great basketball players, admirable values and habits that will help them succeed on and off the court. This must mean colleges are drooling all over them, right? The two-for-one package already has the chemistry that coaches dream about in the backcourt. Who is going to turn that down?
Well, in Jordan’s case, apparently a lot; “I wear number 0 [here] because that is the amount of schools that recruited me [other than Curry].”
On the other hand, Jaelen had the attention of Suffolk University, Pine Manor, and Wheelock Colleges.
But Jordan noted that “My brother and I always dreamed of playing in the backcourt together.”
He went on to explain that nowhere else but “here at Curry [could] we would step into a high minute role and be expected to produce. Coach LeVangie told us his plan and we bought in immediately.”
Despite last year’s lack of success through a 0-25 campaign, the brothers both had faith in Head Coach Matt LeVangie.
Jordan added, “We believe this school will allow my brother and I to be the ‘Bellitti Backcourt’ we’ve dreamed about.” Now, these brothers are living out the scenarios they created in their own driveway nearly 15 years ago.
Their teammates have been some of the first to notice this special backcourt matriculating in front of their very eyes.
Senior forward Paul Preziosi has seen plenty of players come through the program over his roller coaster of a career but says the Bellitti’s are just different.
From winning a few games his first two years to not winning one his junior season, Preziosi wants to get it done his senior year. He thinks Jordan and Jaelen may just be able to help.
Even LeVangie knows what he has in these brothers from Cambridge; “They have the athleticism and skill to become great players; they just have to put in the work.”
When asked if the twins had any added chemistry because they have played together for so long, LeVangie joked, “I haven’t seen them make any out-of-this-world passes using twin telepathy.”
However, he did note that if one of them is in a funk, the other brother takes no time to encourage him, and it is effective.
That reinforcement shows on the court and only adds to their physical attributes.
“They are both 6’3” at the guard spots which gives them a height and length advantage over a lot of guards in our conference,” said LeVangie.
This should immensely help the Colonels defensively as they gave up more than 90 points in seven different games last season. In their first ever taste of the next level, the brothers both got the starting nod and were introduced from the bench where they sat side-by-side.
They wasted no time showing everyone what the next four years has in store as the crowd immediately started asking, ‘Who are number 0 and 24? These kids can play.’
By the end of a heartbreaking double-overtime loss, the brothers were all over the stat sheet.
Jordan tallied 41 minutes, 18 points and nine rebounds. It took no more than a single game to find out if he could indeed channel his inner LeBron in crunch time.
With the crowd on its feet and the pressure on, Jordan tied the game up with just tenths of seconds to play to send the game to a second overtime period.
Jaelen played 39 minutes, registering five points and four rebounds. Three of those points came with little time, though, when the Colonels found themselves down five late in double overtime. Jaelen dribbled down the court and hit a three-pointer to shave the lead to a manageable two.
Despite not coming out with a win, the twins showed a drastic change for the Purple and White.
When they were told they would get a high minute role, Coach LeVangie wasn’t bluffing. The twins played the second and third-most minutes on the team, behind only captain Preziosi.
At this level of basketball, the coach is going to play the best five players that give him the chance to win. Jordan and Jaelen were two of those five, and will likely be all season.
It was only one game and I’m not calling Jordan and Jaelen the next Westbrook and Durant or MJ and Pippen or even Shaq and Kobe.
But they are the Bellitti Backcourt and they are going to pave their own legacy.