OREM — Russell and Tika Wesley are brothers and, as members of the Utah Valley State basketball team, teammates.

They both come from the famed Wesley clan that from its ranks of six boys has produced such notables as Mikele (2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year for BYU; currently playing professionally in Portugal) and Tai (2003 4A MVP for Provo High; redshirted at Utah State last year; presently on an LDS mission in Oaxaca, Mexico).

But their dark hair and olive skin aside, Russell and Tika look nothing like each other — Russell is string-bean thin, while Tika is a couple inches taller and much more muscular.

"He's skinny," Tika said regarding Russell. "He was always the runt growing up. We'd eat dinner, and we'd always be picking off his plate.

"He never had much meat on him, and he was always kind of short. He's not really built like all the other brothers. We're all a little bigger."

Although they both prepped at Provo, these two Wesleys never played together as Bulldogs — Russell is 24 years old, and Tika turns 21 today.

Russell is a senior guard/forward, having spent his entire career at UVSC. Tika, a forward/center, is a junior transfer from Salt Lake Community College.

"Once (Tika) finished at SLCC, I thought it'd be cool if he came here," Russell said. "Just now getting to play with him here on the same team, it's been fun.

"I've been in the program for three years now, and I can help him along and if he has any questions. I'm there as a brother to look out for him and watch out for his back. If he doesn't understand a play, I can give him pointers here and there."

Playing together has added a new dimension to the bond these two brothers share.

"It's been different, playing with Russ," Tika said. "You find out a lot. I always knew he was a competitor, but until I'm going up against him in practice, it's a little different than one-on-one in the back yard.

"I think I've gotten to know him better from playing with him."

This brotherly duo was almost a Wesley trio — T.G., the brother in between Russell and Tika, would've played for UVSC this year if he had been eligible.

"T.G. was going to try and walk on here, but after getting back off his mission last year, he was missing a credit," Russell said. "He's going to school here, but he's not playing.

"He's going to try and play next year. Coach (Dick Hunsaker) said he probably would've made it, but he wasn't eligible for this year."

Despite their physical differences, Russell and Tika are, after all, brothers. They got married last summer on consecutive days and shared a joint luau/reception.


E-mail: jaskar@desnews.com