Like brother, like brother.
Willie Herenton has often followed in the footsteps of his older brother Rodney, Jr., one year his senior.
College will be no exception. Kind of.
Rodney Herenton was a senior basketball player at Stevenson last year. He got great grades and was offered a spot on the basketball team at Stanford University as a preferred walk-on. He was a freshman this year at Stanford and loved the experience of going to a warm-weather school with a top-notch academic reputation and a big-time athletic program.
Willie Herenton is hoping for the same outcome. At Miami (Florida).
Willie Herenton is a senior at Stevenson, was the Patriots' second-leading scorer this past winter, has been a good student all through high school and recently earned a spot at Miami as a preferred walk-on. He announced his commitment to the Hurricanes on Sunday via Twitter.
"My brother is having a blast at Stanford," Willie Herenton said of Rodney Jr., who is majoring in economics. "He told me that as a walk-on, you've got to have a really good attitude and encourage everyone and make everyone better and have good sportsmanship.
"But he also said that everyone from the top scholarship kids to the walk-ons has to compete every day, because you never know if or when you'll get your chance. Your odds as a walk-on are slimmer, but anything can happen because you never know what might happen. My brother got into a few games this year as a freshman."
Just like his brother, Willie Herenton is a versatile scorer, can handle the ball and has a keen interest in studying business. The Herenton boys are inspired by their father Rodney Sr., who is the founder of Channing Capital Management, an institutional investment management firm.
Rodney Sr. and his wife Andrea have put a premium on good academics. Both got their master's degrees from Harvard. And Andrea home-schooled the brothers up through high school.
"I was looking for a strong business school and a strong basketball program and the (Atlantic Coast Conference) is one of the top basketball conferences in the country," Willie Herenton said. "Miami is also a really good school and has a great business school.
"I visited Miami last summer and I just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the campus, with the weather and the location and the coaches and teammates. And the academics there speak for themselves. As soon as I got there for my visit, I knew I wanted to go there."
Herenton kept his options open over the school year, curious to see what other offers came his way as his senior season of basketball played out.
"I got some other offers, some other schools recruited me pretty hard," Herenton said. "But those schools just didn't grab me like Miami did. Miami had everything I was looking for."
As a senior, Herenton led Stevenson from the point guard spot to more than 20 wins and the North Suburban Conference championship. He averaged about 14 points per game and was named all-conference and all-area. One of his best games of the season was a 34-point outburst against Zion-Benton.
"Willie is great at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim and making free throws … just outstanding," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "He does a great job of playing with the ball in his hands and he is a high-level scorer.
"I think he's going to look forward to the challenges of Division I basketball. And he has a really good idea now of what to expect out of the experience as a preferred walk-on from his brother."
When Herenton was younger, he got a form letter from the Miami basketball team, and has been intrigued by the program and the college ever since. His trip to the campus last summer with his mom was his first trip ever to the city of Miami.
"At the end of the day, I wanted to go to a school that if everything else fell down, I would still be happy and I would still get a great education," Herenton said. "You don't want to go to a school just for the basketball. You could get hurt, other things could happen and then what are you going to do?
"You want to go to a place where you can set yourself up for the rest of your life and I think I'm going to get that at Miami."