Malcolm Allen and Marcus Allen haven't made an impact on the Stanford men's basketball team yet, but the freshman guards from Las Vegas have heredity on their side. Their mother, Trina, was a member of the Cardinal women's gymnastics team from 1978-80, while their father, Carl, played free safety at Vanderbilt.
"Both my husband and I have always been involved in sports," said Trina, who still competes and won the 2011 Fitness America Classic Division title for a floor routine encompassing strength, dance and flexibility. "The kids saw the importance of that and enjoyed the team aspect and the competitiveness. When we're not playing our individual sports, we would watch together on the weekends."
Malcolm and Marcus also have history going for them. The twins Malcolm is two minutes older hope to follow the path of Jarron and Jason Collins and Brook and Robin Lopez, who made huge contributions to the Stanford program and went on to have productive NBA careers.
"I've met Jarron and I've seen Brook and Robin around," said the 6-foot-3 Marcus, who is two inches taller than his brother. "It's pretty awesome, the legacy of twins here. It's just always a cool thing to say."
The Allen twins will be back on the court Thursday night when Stanford (3-2, 12-5) takes on host UCLA (3-2, 14-4) in a crucial Pac-12 Conference game at 8 p.m.
Growing up, Malcolm and Marcus started with gymnastics, then played soccer, football and basketball, and were always on the same team.
"We're basically inseparable," Malcolm said. "We pretty much spend all our time together on and off the court. We get the same grades. We're pretty much the same person, but we still have our little differences."
For instance, Malcolm is a jokester while Marcus is mellow and more serious.
"If you asked anyone in the locker room, Malcolm is always the one cracking jokes and keeping the mood light," said Marcus. "He's been like that forever. He's a funny dude."
In grade and middle school, few could tell the Allen twins apart and they had fun with it.
"We used to always mess with people," Malcolm said. "We'd just switch classes and stuff like that and get them confused. Now, we look different and it doesn't work as well."
Raised about 15 minutes outside the Las Vegas strip, the brothers fought a lot as youngsters, especially on their half-court backyard basketball court. They had some ferocious one-on-one games, which started at sundown to avoid the hot weather and often lasted past midnight.
"We got a huge light put in and they would play into the wee hours," Trina said. "Marcus was a little taller, so he would win most of them. But towards the end of their senior year in high school, Malcolm started to win more of them."
Here's their take:
"We battled out there," said Malcolm, who is 4-7 from the field in 4.4 minutes off the bench in eight games. "Sometimes my mom and dad had to come out there and separate us. It got intense, but it was definitely worth it. It was actually fairly even, but I want to say I have the edge. He'll probably say the opposite."
Responded Marcus, "We played almost every night. Sometimes we'd be out there until 2 or 3 in the morning. If I won, he wanted a rematch. It was pretty endless and pretty heated."
So who owns bragging rights?
"I feel like it's even," said Marcus, who is shooting 14-26 (53.8 percent) from the field in 15 games off the bench, including a season-high 11-point outing against Washington State on Jan. 15.
"It depends where we played. If we played in the backyard, I would say I won more because I'm taller and I could try and bully him more. Other places, he had the edge because he gets calls and he shoots it."
Both played for Centennial High School, where they were co-captains last season and earned first-team all-state honors. Marcus was ranked the No. 29 shooting guard in the country by ESPN and was named the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year for Nevada. Malcolm was ranked as the country's 28th-ranked point guard by Scout.com. The two each of whom can dunk led the Bulldogs to consecutive Northwest titles.
They weighed their college options, but were always going to attend the same school.
"We wanted to be a package deal," said Malcolm. "Stanford was always the school we wanted to go to. We grew up going to the basketball camps."
Marcus said he is very comfortable in his new surroundings.
"I've been on The Farm numerous times for my mom's reunions," he said. "I've kind of grown up around here."
Trina couldn't be prouder to see her sons wind up at her alma mater.
"Oftentimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it's real," she said. "Having them play in Maples (Pavilion), where I competed years ago . . . it's almost like déjà vu."
Trina is a pediatrician and is currently volunteering in southern Nevada to provide health care for uninsured kids. This spring, she will transition into telemedicine via Skype to reach more families. Carl is an OBGYN.
For the last five years, Trina has served as President of the Stanford Alumni Association in southern Nevada. They group focuses on service projects and of course, are die-hard Cardinal fans.
"Just ask my boys," said Trina, who hopes to attend nearly all their games this season.
Playing on a team loaded with upperclassmen, minutes have been limited for Malcolm and Marcus. But injuries could change that and both are ready to contribute any way they can.
"I'm just living in the moment and see where it goes," Malcolm said.
Added Marcus, "I play good on-ball and off-ball defense. I like to penetrate and create for my teammates and myself. I can shoot open shots."
Each encourages the other, but they also keep each other humble.
"For the most part, we're supportive of each other," Marcus said. "But there are some times when he has to put me in line and I have to put him in line. Gut checks, for sure."
Mark Soltau is a veteran Bay Area sportswriter who writes for Stanford Athletics/gostanford.com