Omaha, Neb. A little before 1 p.m. today, eight hours before the Kansas University men’s basketball team hits the floor to take on 15th-seeded Detroit in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, KU junior Travis Releford figures to have his eye on the Midwest region’s 8-9 game in Greensboro, N.C.
That’s the time and place Releford’s younger brother, Trevor, will make his NCAA Tournament debut with the Alabama Crimson Tide, which will take on eighth-seeded Creighton at 12:40 p.m.
Earlier this week, Travis took time out to talk about the advice he gave to the Alabama point guard and the back-and-forth banter the two had about the potential for the Jayhawks and Tide to meet in the regional championship game in St. Louis.
“He called talking about us meeting in the title game,” Travis said with a smile. “I said, ‘Good luck with that.’ I told him if they meet up with us, they might as well start planning their trip home. We’ve just been talking mess like that.”
For a couple of years at Bishop Miege High, Travis and Trevor teamed to make the Stags one of the best prep hoops teams in the state. Once the elder Releford left for college, the topic of playing together again rarely came up. For starters, Trevor was not highly recruited by the Jayhawks. In addition, there was a time when some believed Trevor might choose to play college football instead of basketball.
“He had a few offers,” Travis boasted. “Even Alabama was looking at him. So he had to decide on that, too. We never had a conversation about playing together in college.”
Playing apart hasn’t been so bad. While Travis’ development at KU has been slow and steady, Trevor has had the opportunity to run the point for ’Bama coach Anthony Grant’s squad during his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa. After leading all SEC freshmen in assist-to-turnover ratio a year ago, Trevor, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, is the Crimson Tide’s third-leading-scorer this season (11.9 ppg) and also tops on the team in steals (63) and assists (84).
“It worked out for him,” Travis said. “He’s been playing good all season, and making the tournament was a real good accomplishment for them. I’m very proud of him. At the beginning of the season, I told him, ‘I want to see y’all in it.’”
As for any advice now that tourney time is here, Travis said he tried to keep it simple.
“I just tell him it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Travis said. “Just take in everything and have fun. Just go out and play.”
Added Trevor, who is one of two Alabama players (Andrew Steele) who has a brother with NCAA Tournament experience: “He told me there’s no better feeling than winning and advancing, because it gets better and better. And I just want to see how it goes from there.”