These are the best father-son, junior-senior duos in college basketball

There were a more than a hundred “Juniors” in college basketball during the 2019-20 season — as in players who have the same name as their fathers — plus there were 19 who are a second (“II”), 36 who are the third (“III”), seven who are the fourth (“IV”) and one who’s the sixth (!). That was VCU’s Arnold Henderson VI.

Two seasons ago, I looked at the names of every men’s basketball player in the sport and found that the most popular names in 2020 sound very much like the 1990s. I also picked out the best father-son, junior-senior duos in college basketball.

Here’s how this works. Only current college basketball players are eligible and they must be a junior or a II, III, IV or VI, and their father must’ve played college basketball, too. We used team rosters from Sports Reference, which means there could be players who are juniors, but they may not have their name listed that way based on the rosters we consulted.

I evaluated both fathers and sons at the college level — not their prep or pro careers— which means that these father-and-son duos are hypothetically both in college for the purposes of this story.

In this hypothetical world, the father-son duos will play in half-court games to 11 points by 1s and 2s, just like you would at a local playground. 

Here are the top junior-senior, father-son duos in college basketball based on current players and their basketball-playing fathers.

Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers – Ron Harper Sr., Miami (OH)

  • Ron Harper Jr. (6-6, 230 lbs.): 11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg; 43.8% FG, 31.2% 3P (career)
  • Ron Harper Sr. (6-6, 185 lbs.): 24.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.3 spg, 2.3 bpg (1985-86)

There’s a case to be made that Ron Harper Sr., at his peak, would be the single-best player in this hypothetical tournament. At 6-6 and at his prime, he’d arguably the perfect size to play in a 2-vs.-2 game of basketball — big enough to guard forwards and some centers but small enough to also play on the perimeter — and potentially force all kinds of mismatches.

As a senior at Miami (OH), he averaged a double-double, and not just a casual 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. We’re talking almost 24 points and 12 rebounds per night, on average. Then consider what he did as a creator and defender, averaging more than three steals and two blocks per game.

There’s a reason he earned consensus Second Team All-American honors. He was also the MAC Player of the Year as a junior and senior, a three-time First Team All-MAC selection. Harper left Oxford as the program’s all-time leader in scoring (2,377 points) and rebounding (1,119).

Now his son, Ron Harper Jr., helped Rutgers climb into the AP Top 25 in the 2020 season for the first time since 1979, then he helped the Scarlet Knights qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2021, which was  the program’s first trip to the Big Dance since 1991. The younger Harper is the same height but much bigger at the college level (listed at 230 pounds). He has started every game for the Scarlet Knights this season, while leading them in scoring and is their second-best rebounder.

Outside shooting wouldn’t be this father-son duo’s strength but you have to like their size, interior scoring presence, rebounding and defensive abilities.

Jameer Nelson Jr., Delaware – Jameer Nelson Sr., St. Joseph’s

  • Jameer Nelson Jr.: 10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.9 spg; 41.1% FG, 25.0% 3P (career)
  • Jameer Nelson Sr.: 20.6 ppg, 5.3 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.8 spg; 47.5% FG, 39.0% 3P (2003-04)

The Nelson father-son duo would make one heckuva backcourt if we take both players at their peak in college.

As a senior at St. Joseph’s, Jameer Nelson Sr. was the National Player of the Year, winning the Wooden Award and Naismith Award, plus he was a consensus First Team All-American, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and the Bob Cousy Award winner (given to the nation’s best point guard). He was a defensive stalwart, earning Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team honors as a junior and senior.

To remind you just how good Nelson was at St. Joe’s, he helped the Hawks earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and finish the seasons 30-2, including an undefeated, 27-0 regular season.

The other NCAA tournament seeds they’ve had in school history are No. 4, No. 6, No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9, No. 9, No. 10 and No. 11.

Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt – Scottie Pippen, Central Arkansas

  • Scotty Pippen Jr.: 15.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.8 rpg; 41.1% FG, 36.0% 3P (career)
  • Scottie Pippen: 23.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.1 spg; 59.2% FG, 57.5% 3P (1986-87)

Did you know that Scottie Pippen’s first name is actually spelled Scotty? That’s how it’s spelled on his birth certificate but everyone spelled it Scottie. Who knew! Did you know he was announced as “Scott Pippen” when he was drafted, too?

When the older Pippen attended college, he played at Central Arkansas, which was then an NAIA school and where he was a two-time consensus NAIA All-American.

His namesake, Scotty Pippen Jr., was Vanderbilt’s leading scorer as a sophomore, with a scoring average of 20.8 points per game. He earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2021.

Landers Nolley II, Memphis – Landers Nolley Sr., LSU

  • Landers Nolley II (6-7, 230 lbs.): 14.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg; 38.8% FG, 34.7% 3P (career)
  • Landers Nolley (6-6, 197 lbs.): 10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.1 apg; 42.1% 3P (1994-95)

Landers Nolley II is of a similar stature as his father was during his playing days, but he’s even bigger — and more productive. After transferring from Virginia Tech to Memphis, the younger Nolley was the Tigers’ leading scorer last season at 13.1 points per game and he helped them win the NIT.

The older Nolley shot 38.3 percent from three in his two seasons at LSU, which is tied for the eighth-best mark in program history (minimum 75 attempts).

Keion Brooks Jr., Kentucky – Keion Brooks Sr., Wright State

  • Keion Brooks Jr.: 6.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg; 45.5% FG (career)
  • Keion Brooks Sr. (6-1): 20.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg; 42.1% FG, 28.6% 3P (1998-99)

Keion Brooks Sr. is Wright State’s fourth-leading scorer all-time at 1,766 points and he ranks in the top 10 in program history in free throws made, assists, scoring average and steals. He was a two-time First Team All-League selection, a Second Team honoree once and a Newcomer Team pick in 1996.

He was named team MVP in 1997, when he led the Raiders in scoring and rebounding.

Last season, Keion Brooks Jr. was Kentucky’s leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer.

Cedric Henderson Jr., Campbell – Cedric Henderson Sr., Memphis

  • Cedric Henderson Jr. (6-6, 190 lbs.): 13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 apg; 53.8% FG, 35.8% 3P (career)
  • Cedric Henderson Sr.: 16.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.9 spg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 bpg; 41.7% FG, 26.3% 3P (1996-97)

Last season, Cedric Henderson Jr. led Campbell in scoring at 15 points per game. He was a second-team All-Big South selection.

His father, Cedric Henderson Sr., played at Memphis for four seasons and left the Tigers with the sixth-highest point total in program history (1,697 points). He was a great player from the jump, averaging 13.7 points per game as a freshman — the 10th-best mark in school history. Henderson led the team in scoring as a senior at 16 points per game.

At his best, he was a 39 percent 3-point shooter as a junior, he’s 10th all-time in career steals (175) and a Second Team Conference USA selection in 1997.

Other notable father-son duos:

Wendell Moore Jr., Duke – Wendell Moore Sr., Christopher Newport (DIII)

  • Wendell Moore Jr. (6-6, 213 lbs.): 8.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg; 41.7% FG (career)
  • Wendell Moore Sr. (6-7, 185 lbs.): 12.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg; 63.6% FG (1977-81)

Wendell Moore Jr. was Duke’s third-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder last season.

His father was an all-conference tournament selection in 1979 and Wendell Moore Sr. was a 1,000-point scorer at Christopher Newport. He averaged 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 65.9 percent from the field in 1981.

Jemarl Baker Jr., Fresno State – Jemarl Baker Sr., Cal State Northridge

  • Jemarl Baker Jr. (6-4, 192 lbs.): 5.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.5 apg; 37.0% FG, 33.6% 3P (career)
  • Jemarl Baker Sr.: 9.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg; 43.8% FG (1989-90)

Both Bakers, father and son, played out West. Jemarl Baker Jr. transferred from Kentucky to Arizona, where he averaged a career-best 12 points per game last season. He transferred to Fresno State in the offseason.

Jermaine Jackson Jr., Central Michigan – Jermaine Jackson, Detroit Mercy

  • Jermaine Jackson Jr.: 11.8 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.3 rpg, 1.1 spg; 36.6% FG, 33.1% 3P (career)
  • Jermaine Jackson Sr.: 13.9 ppg; 43.0% FG (1998-99)

Jermaine Jackson Sr. was named the MCC Player of the Year, a first team all-conference selection and an all-defensive team choice in 1999, one season after being second team all-conference. He ranks fifth in assists in Detroit Mercy history (509), sixth in free throws made (385) and 22nd all-time in career points with 1,341.

He was named to the all-tournament team three times in four seasons.

Nineteen years after Jermaine Jackson Sr. earned player-of-the-year honors at Detroit, his son earned all-newcomer team recognition at Detroit. He later transferred to LIU and then Central Michigan.

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