By Tim Klapac
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Basketball players often refer to their teammates as brothers. This season, Solomon Uyaelunmo can say that in a literal sense.
That’s because Towson’s sophomore forward is being joined by his brother, Victor Uyaelunmo, a 7-foot, 220-pound redshirt sophomore who transferred to Towson this offseason from USC.
The brothers will be reunited on the bench for the first time since playing together at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
But they’ll have to wait until next year to see the court together, as Victor Uyaelunmo sits out the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Solomon Uyaelunmo and the Tigers begin their season Tuesday at 7 p.m. by hosting George Washington.
In his two years at USC, Victor Uyaelunmo averaged 5.4 minutes per game, making just four starts in 43 games. He’s already excited about the prospect of playing alongside his brother.
“I think it’s going to be really good,” Victor Uyaelunmo said. “Obviously, I’m not playing this year. We’re going to see how it plays out, but I think it’s going to be really good playing together.”
When he entered the transfer portal, Towson head coach Pat Skerry wasn’t initially going to pursue him. However, that all changed once Skerry reached out to Victor’s Uyaelunmo family, including Solomon.
“The second we found out he was leaving, we were like ‘we would love to have him,’” Skerry said. “Then after about a week, their mom called me and said, ‘would you have interest in having both of them?’ It just kind of went from there.”
Skerry sees their history playing together in high school as an advantage for not only Victor settling in at Towson, but also for Solomon in terms of growing his game in his sophomore year.
“Obviously, the chance to play with your brother just doesn’t happen a lot and I think they’re excited,” Skerry said. “Solomon had a really good freshman year for us.”
Solomon Uyaelunmo averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds off the bench in his first season at Towson.
“I was excited to have my brother play with me,” he said. “We were planning to win championships, so I was excited for him to be able to come here.”
Championships come naturally to the Uyaelunmo brothers: They helped lead Calvary Christian to a class 5A state championship in 2017.
Transferring can be daunting — especially when changing coasts. But Victor Uyaelunmo said the transition has been smooth thus far.
“The people here are a lot nicer, more real than out in California,” he said. “The weather is also really cold here.”
Solomon Uyaelunmo feels confident that his brother will fit in at TU thanks to the diverse opportunities provided by Towson.
“I think he’s going to really enjoy it here,” Solomon said. “They have an African diaspora here at Towson and they have events that he will really enjoy.”
Skerry said he’s excited for what Victor Uyaelunmo brings on the court.
“He really plays hard, he’s very competitive,” Skerry said. “A guy at his size, and how well he moves, you don’t find a lot of guys like that. We pride ourselves on having guys sit out and develop and we expect him to make a major impact from day one.”
Playing together means that each brother knows how one another plays on the court. It also meant natural sibling rivalries.
“On the court, they’re both competitive,” Skerry said. “I’ve seen them play against each other. In the summer, Victor elbowed Solomon and Solomon missed a week.”
Victor Uyaelunmo acknowledges the difference in personalities between brothers.
“We’re very different,” he said. “I love playing video games and he doesn’t. We’re just two different people.”
Skerry has seen that difference and summed those personalities up quickly.
“Victor is very, very outgoing and [Solomon’s] very, very quiet, very organized,” he said. “I imagine Solomon’s room to have everything stacked up and Victor sometimes runs out with the backpack open and you’re hoping everything’s not going to fall out.”
Those differences can vary from their social personalities to their favorite basketball player. Victor Uyaelunmo enjoys drawing and has recently taken up painting. He’s also a fan of Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo while Solomon Uyaelunmo has always supported Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.
Despite their differences, Skerry sees a lot of promise in both players.
“We’re excited about this year but I’m also really excited about what those two guys will be able to do next year,” Skerry said. “Victor’s a much better passer than we thought. I think physically, playing them together is going to really help us.”
Skerry expects both to play on the court at the same time.
“They absolutely can and will play together,” he said. “They both rebound, they both defend well, and Solomon’s become a better foul shooter.”