Words. Earl Fannin
At age 14, Terrence Phillips was the youngest player invited to the Under Armour Best of the Best camp a couple weeks ago in Atlanta. He was also one of the Top 30 (out of 81 players) named to the All-Star team. But what else would you expect from the brother of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings.
“I really liked the atmosphere and everything here,” says Phillips. “There was a lot of emphasis on improving your skills. I got to play against a lot of older guys and I really had to work against these guys versus playing against guys in my actual age group. That’s a little easier for me. It is nice to be here and learn what I can do.”
And the comparisons between the two are inevitable. Like Brandon, Terrence has great court vision and hounds opposing point guards on defense.
“Brandon puts me in a position where I feel I can be better than him,” says Phillips without a bit of arrogance. “I watched him play every game on TV this year and I went to two (NBA) playoff games in Milwaukee.
“Sometimes I work out with Brandon and it gives me a real feel for what I need to do to get better. For sure, I have to be stronger. Brandon didn’t have anybody to look up to but now I have him to look up to as an NBA player.”
Even though Jennings was the youngest player in NBA history to score 50+ points in a game, Terrence thinks he could be even better than his older brother: “I don’t want to be like him – I want to be better than him. I’m still exploring what I can do and what I can’t do. A lot of people say I am better than him at this age (14), but he’ll deny it. That’s just Brandon! But I think I am better than Brandon at this age. I’m more athletic than Brandon was.”
Terrence will be an eighth grader this year at St. Anne’s School in Laguna Nigel, Calif., but he did more than hold his own against the older talent at Best of the Best. He will spend the rest of summer playing AAU basketball and working out in the gym preparing for a two-sport school year.
“You have to work and play hard to improve,” says Phillips. “Nothing is easy but getting to be the best you can is hard work. I need to become a lot stronger. I can be better if I work harder.”
Terrence is currently 5-9 and about 140 pounds. He hopes he will grow to at least match Brandon’s 6-1 and 169 pounds and “put some muscle on.” Brandon started every game this year as a rookie for the Bucks, averaging 15.5 points per game, and improving to 18.7 points per game in the seven-game, first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. Whereas Brandon has established himself as a go-to scorer, though, Terrence is more of a playmaker, possessing keen court vision and the ability to make tough passes.
But even if Terrence continues to grow and surpasses the six-foot mark, he isn’t sure that the NBA is in future. The NFL might be an option:
“Overall, I don’t know if I will be big enough for the NBA, but I really want to go to the NFL as a running back,” Terrence says. “Reggie Bush is my hero.
“Football is my main sport really. It just happens that I’m also very good at basketball. I play running back and free safety. I score at least three times a game and make two interceptions. And I put a guy in the hospital this year. It was on a kickoff and he came around a curve and I laid him out. It was a clean hit. I’m probably working more to get my body ready for football. That’s where strength is important.”
Whatever path Terrence ultimately chooses, Brandon Jennings is not the only one with a bright future in the family.
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