Fred VanVleet and Antoine Pittman played on the same court in high school during the 2011-2012 season when VanVleet was a senior and Pittman was a freshman. Fast forward to the 2015-2016 college basketball season, and the two players were back on the Missouri Valley stage in Peoria.
VanVleet's Wichita State Shockers visited Pittman's Bradley Braves at Carver Arena, setting the scene for a rare and memorable Auburn reunion. The two former Knights were in the starting lineups and gave Rockford hoops fans who made the trip south plenty of highlights. VanVleet finished with 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds in the Shockers' 85-58 victory, while Pittman put together an 8-point, 3-rebound effort. Both players embraced after the game, and enjoyed a special Sunday for their hometown.
"Seeing my friends and family and a lot of people I don't get to see a lot anymore, it was good to see those faces again," said Pittman.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a proud moment for Rockford and Auburn. [Pittman] didn't play extremely well but most freshmen don't. I was the same way up and down throughout the year. I think he has a bright future. It was fun being out there with him and I wish him the best. I hope he plays well all year except for two games," said VanVleet.
Family, friends, and coaches traveled south to see the reunion firsthand, and it was a memorable afternoon for everyone in attendance.
"It's really good for Auburn. That's why kids want to come to Auburn. We're doing our best to gets kids into school. The way we play correlates to college basketball," said Joe Danforth, Fred VanVleet's stepfather.
"It's a really special time and I hope we see it again. These two boys did what they needed to do in high school to get here and I think that's really cool. I hope more will follow but it's a really special time," said Susan Danforth, Fred's mother.
"This is the first time I think i'm seeing two at this level. I've seen two against each other before in JUCO and stuff like that. On a Division I stage it's a special thing. For me it's all a blessing, it's not like you can plan in your career to have all these guys doing this. Just been very blessed," said Bryan Ott, Fred VanVleet and Antoine Pittman's former head coach at Auburn High School.
The two Knights will meet again later this season when the Braves visit the Shockers on January 23 in Wichita.