Originally created 07/17/04

Two Princes stirring up their game



The official Nike Peach Jam roster says J.P. Prince wears a No. 11 jersey for YOMCA Team Memphis.

While that's not the case when his team is in white, it takes about 30 seconds to figure out which player he is.

Just look for the guy with jagged shards of shoulder blades whose arms are so long they're capable of stretching from here to Graceland.

Sound like someone else with a stately last name?

J.P. Prince is the cousin of Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince.

And don't think for a moment that J.P. hasn't heard the comparisons, both in stature and style of play.

"It doesn't bother me, but everywhere I go it's the first question people ask me," says Prince, who will be a senior at White Station High.

As much as J.P. hears it, he only believes a portion of the comparison.

He says defensively, yes, he resembles and models his game after his cousin.

The reason is those condor-looking limbs on either side of him reaching nearly down to his Nikes.

"On defense, I kind of have to (agree). It's right there," he says, looking down at his arms, which are capable of Gumby-ing into passing lanes and swatting shots into the stands.

Offensively, J.P. thinks - besides a few mannerisms, including a left-handed jump shot - that he and his cousin differ.

The older Prince, at 6-foot-11, is more of a jump shooter from the small forward spot.

At 6-7, J.P. plays point guard and likes to create off the dribble. He looks for his shot second and often off the move. He says that makes him more like a young Lamar Odom.

"He's got a gift," said Team Memphis coach Keith Easterwood, who's known J.P. since he was 10. "You can put him anywhere on offense and let him go."

Perhaps the most ironic thing about any degree of comparison is that J.P. knows Tayshaun about as well as the rest of the world.

J.P. grew up the son of a college assistant, moving around with his father's career. Tayshaun was brought up in California before moving east for college.

The two don't converse on the phone. They never see one another. They've never shared the same basketball court.

"He's just a family member," J.P. said. "People are always asking if we practice together, since we look so much alike and play alike. But everything - the shot, the dribble, everything - it's just coincidence."

J.P. said he is considering following Tayshaun to Kentucky, but the Wildcats are full up on guards that he's not expecting an offer. He's currently looking at Arizona, Florida, Memphis, North Carolina State and Vanderbilt.

"I'm happy being compared to my cousin," J.P. said. "If I could get his career, I'd be happy. ...

"Maybe that's how we'll meet and talk one day, when I see him in the NBA or something."

That's not even close to being a ridiculous notion, his club coach said.

"He's on the verge of being a McDonald's All-American," Easterwood said. "That's not just me, that's a lot of people around the country, from camps and tournaments like this."

Reach Travis Haney at (706) 823-3219 or travis.haney@augustachronicle.com.