A conversation with David and Travis Wear can be a confusing, uncanny and somewhat frightening experience.
Ask the two eerily similar twins, for instance, to name their favorite food.
“Steak,” they reply, in stereo.
“Hip - ,” Travis says, “Hip - ,” David echoes, a split second separating their syncopation.
“Hop,” they say, aligned once again. “Lil Wayne.”
Watching them play basketball is only slightly less perplexing. After all, seeing two 6-foot-9, 206-pound 18-year-olds navigating the low post in near-perfect symmetry is hardly an everyday occurrence.
The Wears have led Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana to three California Interscholastic Federation championships and one state title. The brothers are tuning up for their senior campaign this summer by serving as twin pillars of the U.S. team for next week’s FIBA Americas under-18 championship in Formosa, Argentina.
Listed as four-star talents by rivals.com, the two are committed to North Carolina and have drawn comparisons to Brook and Robin Lopez, the 7-foot Stanford standouts who were chosen 10th and 15th, respectively, in last month’s NBA Draft.
The only difference between the two sets of twins may be the astounding lack of a difference between the Wears. While the Lopez brothers caused a stir with their disparate hairstyles (Robin sported an Afro, Brook a buzz) and play (Robin an aggressive defender, Brook a prodigious scorer), David and Travis embrace their similitude.
Whether it’s shopping for the same foods at the supermarket, catching the same movies or competing on the same Xbox 360, the two are virtually inseparable. They split a room at the Red Roof Inn across from Verizon Center during their time in the District, will room together in Argentina next week and plan on sharing a dorm suite at North Carolina.
They briefly considered getting different haircuts - both keep their blonde hair buzzed - but decided against it when they realized they could no longer switch classes, a prank they executed through elementary and middle school and still try occasionally at Mater Dei.
“If I had to tell you one difference between the two I really couldn’t,” fellow national team member Mason Plumlee said.
Said another teammate, Dominic Cheek: “They always hang together - like a magnet.”
Most members of the squad rely on the twins’ jersey numbers to tell them apart, and Plumlee even formulated a mnemonic device to help him keep them straight.
“[No.] 41 is David because ‘D’ comes before ‘T’ in the alphabet and ‘1’ comes before ‘2,’” Plumlee said.
Assistant coach Anthony Grant has learned to identify David by his slightly thinner face, but Cheek has no time for such careful observations.
“They got the same name,” Cheek says. “I just call them ‘Twin.’”
Though U.S. coach Bob McKillop claims he can’t tell which is the superior player - David’s scoring average was 0.7 higher than Travis’ last season - he believes their identical styles confuse defenders who discover they have picked up the wrong man.
“When I coached them in youth league, I would always assign them numbers that were close, like 21 and 12,” dad David Wear said. “Soon enough I would have two guys guarding one and have the other with a wide-open layup.”
Getting them to argue about their game might be the only way to keep them from starting and finishing their sentences simultaneously.
“Travis,” David said when asked which of the two is the better ball handler.
Said Travis: “Yeah, he does get a little careless sometimes.”
“Oh you know, that’s me,” Travis said. “I’ll give you ball handling, but I am a better shooter for sure.”
Said David: “All right, I’ll give you that. On a certain day.”
They bicker back and forth momentarily on who is more aggressive on defense before proudly announcing that they have the same vertical leap.
“Yeah,” they chime, phonetically reunited once again.