NEWARK - There may be a few better basketball players in the state, but there may not be a more buzzed about one right now then Cedar Ridge’s Austin Reaves.
Reaves – a 6-5, 170-pound senior guard - dropped 73 points in one triple-overtime win this season, has been over 50 points in four other contests and is starting to draw attention from Arkansas, Missouri, Gonzaga, Wichita State and others.
He is averaging 38 points - currently leading the nation's high school ranks - 11 rebounds and 5 assists per game for the Class 3A Timberwolves, who are off to a 18-3 start as he looks for a third state title in four years.
“He really is having a special senior season,” Cedar Ridge head coach Isaac Humphries said. “You look up there and he had 73 points and you just think ‘Wow!’
“At times, I have to tell my kids to just not stand there and watch him and see what he is going to do. You have to be ready to go rebound. But sometimes I catch myself doing that, too.”
His 73-point effort came in a 117-115 triple overtime win over Forrest City in which 5-9 Mustangs senior guard Robert Glasper had 59 of his own.
“I looked up at the scoreboard in the middle of the third quarter and I had 46 and I thought for a split-second I might have another 50-point game,” Reaves said. “At the start of the second overtime, I looked up and I had 58 and I was like, ‘is this really happening?’
“I had to keep scoring because he (Glasper) was really letting it fly,” Reeves said. “He was hitting them from deep with a hand in his face.”
Reaves was 34-of-39 from the free throw line in that win.
“He does whatever we need him to do,” Humphries said. “He shoots a ton of free throws because he handles the ball so well. They get up there and try to pressure him and he gets then in foul trouble.
“I talked to somebody today and they wanted to know what his free throw percentage is and he was 195-of-225 through 16 games. He is shooting over 10 a game.
“His outside shot is really coming along. He has always been a good shooter, but his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was more of spot shooter.
“Last year he shot like 33 percent from 3-point range and this year is it up there right at 40 percent, creating his own shot and he is shooting a lot of them.”
Arkansas State, South Dakota State and Montana State are the three schools that have offered scholarships to Reaves at this point.
Arkansas, Missouri, Boston College, Gonzaga, Wichita State are among the schools now showing interest in Reaves.
Reaves, who went to see Arkansas play Mercer in North Little Rock earlier this season, would love an offer from the Razorbacks.
“I like how they play really hard,” Reaves said. “I like playing up-tempo and fast. I have always played like that. They have got a couple of kids that can definitely put it in the whole.
“That is a place I would love to play if they were to offer me.”
Reaves is the son of former Arkansas State players Brian Reaves and Nicole Wilkett, but they are not set on him becoming a Red Wolf.
“They tell me that wherever I want to go they are going to support me,” Reaves said. “They have probably missed five of my baseball, basketball soccer games my whole life. Anything I do they are going to support me.
“They told me if I go 25 hours away, they will be there as much as they can so they are just behind me whatever I decide to do.”
Reaves' brother Spencer (6-3,195) is a sophomore guard averaging 11.9 point this season for Central Missouri and he and Austin helped lead the Timberwolves to state titles in 2013 and 2014.
Spencer was North Grenville’s leading scorer at 16.8 points per game last season and was named the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Conference selection before transferring.
The brothers have always had been competitive with each other.
“He has probably scored more points overall, but never scored as many as I have in a single game like this season,” Reaves said. “He never really gives me any credit and is always the one to tell me what I am doing wrong, but the other day he finally admitted that I was playing pretty good.”
Austin would love to add a third state ring because – in part because he would have one more than his brother.
“Winning is my main thing because that is all I have ever done and I have always been a great competitor, starting with my older brother beating me at everything and I hated losing,” Reaves said. “It would put me one up on him if I get that third ring.”
There is certainly that possibility with the way Cedar Ridge has been playing.
“Things are great,” Reaves said. “We are playing great team basketball. My teammates are getting me the ball for open shots, setting great screens and Coach has been calling out really good plays.
“I can’t take all the credit for myself because it is a five-man sport and I just have to think everybody for the help they have given me.”
Some old-timers see a former LSU and NBA star Pete Maravich in his game.
“The coach from Boston College compared me to Jason Kidd, which I really love passing the ball and have since I was young,” Reaves said. “ I played two years with my brother who could shoot the lights out and my job was to get him the ball.
“I don’t really think of myself as trying to be someone else. I just try to be me.”
“It’s crazy and all we are working for right now,” Reaves said.
“From our first game this year to now, we are twice as good as we were,” Humphries said. “We are playing really well against really great competition.
“We just have to keep improving, win our conference, win our district and put ourselves in position to win it all.”
Humphries points out that his team having such unselfish players is a big deal for its success,
“The thing that helps him out is that I have a group of kids that are so unselfish,” Humphries said. “There is jealously there, they are excited for him. They do good job of getting him the ball in spots and setting screens for him. When he does miss, they do a good job of cleaning it up.”
It also obviously helps having a driven superstar.
“He wants to be successful and he has dreams and goals he wants to achieve. He saw how hard they have to work on just that level and how he want be the best player on the floor every time he steps on the court like he is here now," Humphries said.
“He has really stepped up as a leader since then, he is the first one to practice now and is the last one to leave. He has really stepped into that leadership role for us.”