Brothers set to do battle

  • Dartmouth's Wes Slajchert is introduced with other starters before the start of their game in Burlington, Vt., on Dec. 1, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Geoff Hansen

  • Pennsylvania's Clark Slajchert, left, tries to get past Villanova's Collin Gillespie during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) ap — Matt Slocum

  • Dartmouth's Wes Slajchert drives against Vermont's Duncan Demuth during their game in Burlington, Vt., on Dec. 1, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2022 11:19:16 AM
Modified: 1/15/2022 2:26:01 PM

Philadelphia may be the City of Brotherly Love, but on Saturday, it will play host to a brotherly rivalry.

When the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team (4-9, 1-1 Ivy League) takes on the University of Pennsylvania (5-11, 2-1) at the Palestra, it will mark the first time Wes Slajchert, a senior guard for the Big Green, will face his younger brother, Quakers sophomore Clark Slajchert, in an official game.

They’ve played plenty of unofficial games over the years, though, at their home in Oak Park, Calif.

“There were definitely some nights where it got so competitive out there on the backyard that we didn’t want to speak to each other,” Wes Slajchert said. “We’re both competitive. There were some intense battles and some physical games from when we were in elementary school all the way up until I left for college.”

Both brothers have been surrounded by basketball and the Ivy League for essentially their whole lives — their father, Davis, was recruited to play basketball at Yale. Wes and Clark also have two older brothers, one of whom, J.D. Slajchert, played Division I hoops at UC Santa Barbara.

The two youngest Slajcherts spent two years together on the varsity team at Oak Park High School. Wes was an all-around star his senior year, averaging 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while recording three triple-doubles. He was a first-team all league player in each of his four years, and made the all-Ventura County first team in each of his final three seasons.

“When the recruiting process came around for me, there were a lot of schools that came to visit, but I always knew I was looking for the best mix of academics and athletics,” he said. “At Dartmouth, it’s an unrivaled experience in both those regards, so it was a perfect fit for me.”

Wes has appeared in every game since arriving at Dartmouth and has started eight of the Big Green’s 13 games so far this year. But Clark’s career took off after his brother left for Hanover. He led all California high school players in scoring during his senior year with 31 points per game, and had an offer from Pac-12 member Washington State in addition to his interest from the Ivy League.

In the end, Clark nearly chose to join Wes at Dartmouth before committing to Penn, but he said watching J.D. and Wes go through their recruitment before him helped him out.

“I was very close, probably closer than anyone would imagine,” Clark said. “I love Dartmouth, but when I came to Penn, I saw it as a different opportunity to pursue my own goals. I couldn’t base my decision on where my brother was at. We’ll still get the opportunity to share the court together, which I’m excited about.”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Ivy League’s 2020-21 season, the Slajcherts have only one year to play against each other.

Clark has made an immediate impact for the Quakers — he’s already posted double-figure point totals six times, including a 25-point outburst in his first career start at Arkansas on Nov. 28.

Both brothers said they try to watch each other’s games whenever they can, and they text or call each other before every game to wish each other luck.

“I’ve watched pretty much every (Penn) game if we’re not playing,” Wes said. “I talk to him real frequently, at least once or twice a week, so I’m really tapped into how he’s doing and his success.”

The whole family will be at the Palestra for Saturday’s game. Davis Slajchert said he plans to wear a Penn shirt and a Dartmouth hat for the game in Philadelphia, then the reverse when the teams meet at Leede Arena on Feb. 26, which will be Wes’s Senior Day.

“When I first started thinking about (them playing each other), I got a stomachache worrying about either one of them not playing well,” he said. “We’re rooting for both teams to play well and both kids to play well, and may the best team win.”

Wes, at 6-foot-4, is three inches taller than Clark, but both play roughly the same position and could end up guarding each other Saturday.

The two have talked this week, as they do before all their games, and have prepared for every possibility.

The brothers have come a long way from going one-on-one in their Southern California backyard to matching up at one of the most famous and historic arenas in the country. But with their parents and other family members in attendance, it might not feel so different after all.

“In the moment, it’s a little bit weird to be matched up against your brother, but in the long run, it creates a lasting memory,” Wes said. “Not a lot of people who played Division I college basketball can say they were on the floor guarding their younger brother, so that’s really cool and it’s something we’ll both remember for a long time.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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