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Aminu says Lawal, older brother both supported his decision to play for Wake Forest instead of Tech

It was truly an ironic statement.

On Friday afternoon, Norcross rising senior Al-Farouq Aminu was asked - for about the 50th time in the previous 24 hours - why he chose Wake Forest over his other finalist Georgia Tech.

His answer was simple and to the point.

"I just really liked the family atmosphere," he said in between playing games for his AAU Georgia Stars team at the Peach Jam in Augusta.

It's an answer that is routinely given by high school athletes when they announce their college choice.

But this one has a bit of a twist, because Aminu actually has real family playing at Georgia Tech.

His older brother, Alade, is a rising junior for the Yellow Jackets, but it was the comfortable, familial feeling he got in Winston-Salem, N.C., that eventually led to his decision.

Despite the obvious irony, Aminu said his brother supported his choice 100 percent.

"Yeah, he was cool with it," said Aminu, who is ranked as the No. 3 senior basketball player in the U.S. by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

"He kind of related it to when I went to Wesleyan and he played at Stephenson (High School) my freshman year. And it's kind of cool that I get to do my own thing and he gets to do his."

Aminu is certainly doing his own thing. Many people figured he was a done deal to Georgia Tech since Alade plays there and his former Norcross teammate Gani Lawal is preparing for his freshman season with the Yellow Jackets.

But Aminu chose a different path - one he's very excited about.

"It was very important (to do my own thing)," he said. "It's not that I would have been overshadowed by them too much, but I didn't want to be known as Alade's little brother. I kind of wanted to make my own name."

The versatile 6-foot-8 forward has already done that. He is considered the No. 1 small forward prospect in the country and was one of the key ingredients in Norcross' run to the 2007 Class AAAAA state title.

Of course, Lawal was pretty important to that championship as well, and the 2007 McDonald's All-American was hoping to join forces with Aminu again in 2009.

Instead, he'll be playing against him.

"We had a couple of text messages back and forth," Aminu said of Lawal. "He kind of understood why I made my decision.

"He was a little disappointed because he did like the thought of us playing with each other at the same school, but he also wanted me to do what was best for me."

Aminu becomes the highest rated recruit to verbal to Wake Forest since current NBA All-Star Chris Paul.

His commitment on Thursday, along with that of fellow Georgia Stars teammate Tony Woods, gives the Demon Deacons two of the top 20 players in the Class of 2009.

And judging from a few message board posts, the Wake Forest fans can't wait to see them at Joel Coliseum.

"We're back!" read one post on the school's Rivals.com site. "Aminu = ACC Player of the Year."

"What an awesome day!" read another. "Amazing news for the Deacons."

The posts were no less enthusiastic on the Scout.com site, though maybe a bit tongue-in-cheek.

"We could beat the Grizzlies!" one fan wrote. "With these new recruits, we definitely could win 20-25 games in the NBA."

A bit of an overstatement sure, but you can understand the excitement.

After all, while Wake Forest has produced a number of quality players in recent years - Tim Duncan, Josh Howard and Paul to name a few - the Deacons don't typically reel in the high-profile recruits like their in-state neighbors Duke and North Carolina.

"They're not like those other schools in the sense that they don't consistently get those grade-A (highly ranked) players," Aminu said.

"They've done some good things and gotten some good players, but they just haven't been able to recruit those same types of guys usually."