Friar Basketball

What I Learned about AJ Reeves in Defeat

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It hasn’t been hard to find AJ Reeves since he burst onto the New England basketball scene in the fall of 2014 as the most highly rated player in the class of 2018.

My first glimpse came in December 2014 at the Hoop Mountain Classic at St. Andrew’s in Barrington. Little did I suspect in watching a Cushing Academy team led by sophomore Makai Aston-Langford, and later Reeves with his Brimmer and May group, that I was witness to the future of Providence basketball.

And oh what a future it is shaping up to be.

Reeves and his Brimmer gang have returned to Barrington on multiple occasions since. I’ve tracked him there for the past three years, seen him at the Scholar Roundball Classic, watched as he took on prep powerhouse Northfield Mount Hermon, and against the imposing Omari Spellman of MacDuffie, but nothing impressed me more than what I saw this past December.

Last season is when it all seemed to come together for Reeves — he looked all of 6’6, his body had filled out, and he refined his jump shot to the point at which it was simply a thing of beauty — stepping back, pulling up off the bounce, fading.

It seemed every other week he was putting up 25-35 on someone and sinking 4-5 3 pointers in the process.

But my impression of him, and my hopes that he could one day become a Friar, were truly shaped against Cushing at St. Andrew’s last year.

It was a game Reeves would just as soon forget.

Cushing featured Mass Rivals teammates David Duke and Wabissa Bede. They were the best team in NEPSAC’s AA last year by a sizable margin, taking opponents’ will with their constant pressure on both ends. By this point, Bede was a true top-75 talent, and Duke was in the midst of his national breakout, scoring 25 points and leaving those sitting around me buzzing about the Providence native who was lighting it up just minutes from home.

Cushing ran away by 30 points, as Brimmer and May simply didn’t have the depth to stay with the Penguins when they were clicking like that.

Duke left a lasting impression — he was simply terrific — but I watched Reeves closely throughout that game and didn’t see a glimpse of frustration (and anyone who has played at any level knows how aggravating it is to lose in this fashion to your friends). He continued playing, quietly encouraged teammates, and kept his head up…and for some reason walking out of the gym that day I thought that PC might just get this guy.

Providence and Ed Cooley aren’t for divas. They aren’t for kids who drag out the recruiting process, or hold over-the-top announcement ceremonies.

On Sunday, Reeves committed to Cooley at Providence’s Elite Camp, telling The Pawtucket Times’ Brendan McGair, “I didn’t want to call. I wanted to do it in person because it makes it that much more important.”

There were no hats, no flyers hyping a pending decision, no streamed announcement online — just a drive to campus on a Sunday morning to look Cooley in the eye to tell him he’s the next star recruit to believe in his vision.

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To read more about AJ Reeves, including commentary from Brimmer and May head coach Tom Nelson, see our Closer Look article from April.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

Email: kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

 

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