Older brother came to Temple, made a quick impression. Right away, though, there was buzz about a younger brother. That one might be special.
Within the family, older brother got into basketball first.
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“My very first love,’’ said Temple junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis. “Around it every day. That was like my only friend.”
Nate said he had a serious speech impediment when he was younger. “Only way to connect with people was through basketball,’’ said Nate, now a prime talker for Temple, joined by younger brother Josh, a key Owls freshman.
Hoops already was their father’s sport. Their father was a professional, usually in Europe. The first six or seven years of his life, Nate’s most vivid memories were of airplanes.
“At first, Josh didn’t like basketball like that,’’ older brother said of younger brother. “That wasn’t his love. He just played because I played. He didn’t really fall in love with basketball until like sophomore year.”
“He knows me,’’ said younger brother. “He’s my best friend. My bestest friend, forever. At first, I wasn’t 100 percent into it, like he was. One day, I woke up, and put my time into it and my effort, and my dad told me I could be a great player one day. I just kept grinding …”
Older brother already was at Temple when younger brother committed to UNLV. But there were coaching changes at both places, younger brother trying to figure out where to be. Nate already had proven himself at Temple. And there was a need for point guard at Temple, so it all seemed to fit. Two Jersey guys, from powerhouse Roselle Catholic.
“They look out for one another,’’ said Aaron McKie, who will direct the brothers in his first game as Owls head coach Tuesday against Drexel at the Liacouras Center. “They compete against one another really hard. One wants to be a step ahead, to the point I have to change the [practice] matchups. I love it.”
They’re different players, McKie said, different people.
“Like most [younger] brothers,’’ Temple’s coach said. “I think that’s Josh’s approach -- he doesn’t want to be called Nate’s little brother.”
Whoops. Too late.
“He wants to be called Josh Pierre-Louis,’’ McKie said. “We already have information on Nate.”
To be sure, older brother has proven himself in college ball, named most improved player last season in both the Big 5 and the American Athletic Conference. Nice awards considering Nate was all-rookie in the conference the year before. Averaging 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, the 6-foot-4 guard solidified his status as a defensive force.
“He created his own lane, in a sense,’’ McKie said.
While Nate is the type to throw himself into the fray, McKie said, Josh, listed as an inch shorter than his brother, has a look on his face like he’s trying to figure it out.
“The light bulb really snapped on like sophomore summer,’’ Josh said. “Playing AAU. I started racking up Division I offers. I started dunking. I thought I was never going to be able to dunk. Now I’m windmilling under the legs, doing crazy stuff.”
The relationship between the two isn’t just away from the court.
“My brother knows, my brother knows me a lot,’’ Josh said. “Brothers know when to talk to you the right way, when to talk to you in a different way. After a tough loss, he always told me what I did right. He also kept it 100 with me -- if I did something bad, had three turnovers; ‘you can’t be doing this, this, this.’ “
The grit they have, both brothers say, comes from dad.
“Since he put a ball in our hands, he put that killer in us,’’ Josh said, remembering his 7-year-old self, how Nate would be taking him down, how Dad would kind of cheer it on. Josh said he understood what was going on in real time.
“I’m like, all right, he’s putting that killer in me,’’ Josh said. “That burning sensation that sat there.”
It all carried over, Josh said. A game went badly. OK, not the first time you got beaten out there. How are you going to handle it?
“You’ve got to back it up and fix it,’’ Josh said.
Dad played all over. Name a country that’s into hoops, Fritz Pierre-Louis, a 6-foot-8 Wagner College Hall of Famer, was there. Nate remembers being in Italy, his first school, a bilingual preschool. Then Spain for a bit, outside Barcelona. Dad was busy, two-a-day practices the routine.
“My mom was just the base,’’ Nate said. “My dad was the enforcer.”
Nate will admit to immense pride in seeing how far little brother has come.
“Seeing how much work he’s put in, how much success he’s had,’’ Nate said. “It’s crazy to see where he’s come from. … Frustrated, throwing the ball away, punching me in the face.”
McKie said they have to get the brothers away from each other in practice. Nate sees it a different way.“They don’t let me and Josh play on the same team in practice,’’ Nate said. “I’m guarding him. Who’s going to get you better than your brother? He knows everything about you. He knows your weaknesses.”
We won’t have to wait long to see this double dose of Pierre-Louis. They’re the first brothers to play basketball together at Temple.
“Really cool,’’ older brother said.