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Change of scenery has aided Trayvon Reed's rise

7-foot-1 Maryland signee left a tough neighborhood in Mobile, Ala., and has blossomed into a basketball star

January 23, 2014|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after Reed signed that his ability to block shots was "like a young [Dikembe] Mutombo" and that he was further along defensively than former Terps center Alex Len was at a similar age.

When Reed first came on Maryland's radar, he was content to stay on the perimeter and take jump shots. But Turgeon said Ellison has done a good job getting Reed to play inside.

"Pervis has done a nice job with him," Turgeon said Thursday. "He's got a nice touch [from 15 to 17] feet. He's getting stronger. He doesn't have a low base, so he's always shied away from being down low, but he's gotten a lot bigger and stronger this year. He's got a great feel with the ball in his hands. He's got some skill."

The most obvious difference in Reed since he arrived at Life Center Academy last summer is his physique. Though still scrawny at 232 pounds, Reed has put on between 15 to 18 pounds and hopes to add another 15 by the time he leaves.

As for his game, Ellison said "his confidence is growing."

"Trayvon has always been on teams where offensively he's been more of a lob dunk kind of guy," Ellison said. "Now he's been a lot more assertive in the post. Me being a post big myself, I harp on him all the time to demand the ball. His growth offensively has been tremendous."

Defensively, Ellison is quick to add that Reed is "way ahead of the curve. [With] his unique size, he alters shots, he blocks shots, he rebounds. Those aspects of the game he's going to provide immediately for Maryland."

Reed said he really didn't know much about the Terps until he watched Len play against defending champion Kentucky in the 2012-13 season opener. The 7-1 sophomore used a dominant performance against star freshman Nerlens Noel as a catapult to being picked No. 5 overall by the Phoenix Suns in June's NBA draft.

"He had a good game, and I thought, 'Hey Maryland's pretty nice, they're pretty good,'" Reed said. "If he came in at 216 [pounds] as a freshman and they developed him in two years, him just working hard, I said I can do the same thing. That really gave me a big influence on my decision."

Reed said he also had no idea who Ellison was when it was first mentioned to him that a former NBA player was going to be his coach, but after going on the Internet, Reed said, "I could tell he was a really good basketball player and stuff like that, and I was very excited."

'The sky's the limit'

Ellison hasn't quite turned Reed into the second coming of a player who was quickly nicknamed "Never Nervous Pervis" for the way he responded to the spotlight as a freshman by leading Louisville past Duke to the 1986 NCAA championship in Dallas.

Nor has Reed always lived up to his own credo of "playing hard all the time."

In a homecoming game last Friday against a much smaller team from the Academy of New Church, Reed seemed disinterested. He barely got off the ground and ran gingerly, which he and Ellison later attributed to shin splints.

"He's still growing," Ellison said in the dressing room after Life Center won easily. "The one thing I like about Trayvon is that he understands potential, and he has goals. What I'm trying to get him to understand is the level of work it takes to achieve what he set his goal out to be."

The next afternoon, matched against Westtown School and highly rated Georgios Papagiannis, a skilled 7-1 center from Greece considered among the top players in the Class of 2015, Reed appeared both more mobile and more motivated.

The improvement for Reed also has come in the classroom, said Rebecca Boudwin, a local attorney who tutors Reed and previously worked with two former Life Center stars, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters and Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross.

Boudwin said Reed is not taking his studies lightly.

"It's been leaps and bounds since he got here," she said. "One of the big things I've learned with Trayvon is keeping his focus. ... He has said that if he had stayed down there [in Georgia], he would have been lost in the system, and I don't think he would have qualified."

Reed, who still needs to get the requisite score on his upcoming ACT exam to qualify academically at Maryland, said that coming to Life Center Academy has been "tremendous" for his academic preparation.

"Because we're in a small classroom and there's not that many distractions, I can get my work done and the teachers want to help you and I can bond with them," Reed said. "It's been a better situation for me."

Reed said he still has "a big relationship" with his brother, who is expected to be released after seven years in March. Jacoby Reed was a 6-5 forward as a sophomore in high school when he fell into the wrong crowd.

Travyon Reed said that his brother has mentored him from prison, and his stepfather Daniel Moore has also been a positive influence.

"[My brother] basically is telling me to be the opposite of him, don't do what he did, keep positive people around you, and just go hard," Trayvon Reed said. "When I don't go hard, he yells at me. He tells me, 'That's the only way you're going to get out.' He said, 'You see the struggle I went through. Follow your dreams, the sky's the limit."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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