Work In Progress: 7-Footer Looking to Improve

Auburn's seven-foot-two freshman center, Trayvon Reed, talks about making the adjustment to college basketball.

Trayvon Reed takes a shot in Sunday's practice at Auburn Arena.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the focuses in the month of December for Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team has been adding seven-foot-two newcomer Trayvon Reed into the playing rotation.

As the Tigers head into Monday night’s home game vs. Middle Tennessee State, Reed is getting ready for his sixth college game and notes he has made a good bit of progress since his debut on Dec. 14th at Clemson.

“The coaches have told me I have improved a lot, but I feel like I can do more,” Reed said. “Coming down the line I am going to do more. I’m just waiting on that moment.”

Pearl is glad to have the freshman on the board, even though he is way behind his teammates on strength and conditioning as well as knowing his assignments on both offense and defense.

“I think the biggest thing for Trayvon is he’s a dimension,” Pearl said after Sunday’s practice, a two-hour session preparing for what the coach said should be a challenging home game vs. a Middle Tennessee State team that has had major success in recent seasons in Conference USA.

“Can he get his game from being a dimension to being more of a factor--the answer is yes, he has that kind of ability,” Pearl said of the four-star recruit.

“I don’t think it’s going to be leaps and bounds because the things that he doesn’t do right now have a lot to do with his strength and physicality,” Pearl added. “That is just going to take time. He has tremendous upside if he will stay with it.”

Reed noted that the transition to college has been a challenge. “When I first got here it was crazy,” he said, noting that he had difficulty doing the conditioning runs that a part of basketball training. “When the next week came and we started running it felt better,” he said. “That first week was kind of hectic for me.”

The center noted that “once I really get in shape” that running the floor will be one of his strengths as a basketball player.

The freshman said that he is working to improve all phases of his play, particularly his offensive skills. Reed is averaging 2.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and has hit 3-7 field goals and 2-7 free throws while getting 13.3 minutes of playing time per game.

Commenting on his goals, Reed said, “I’m kind of small right now so gaining weight and working on my body, too. I feel like once I get that everything will be good...I am 230 now and my goal is to get to 240. I eat a lot.”

Reed spent the fall semester finishing academic work at a prep school in Florida so he could enroll at Auburn to begin classes in January. “So far everything is going good,” he said of his short time on the team. “I’m just trying to get into the system, just trying to become a better person. Chuck Person, Bruce Pearl and the coaching staff, I feel like I can learn a lot from them.”

“I have had my ups and downs,” he added. “Some days I wasn’t in the mood, I didn’t feel like practicing. Some days I was just down, but I also have had some good days, too. I just thank God for that. I thank Auburn for giving me a second chance.”

The center from Mobile originally signed with Maryland, but was not allowed to enroll there after an incident in July in the state of Maryland where he was charged with second-degree misdemeanor assault. He pled guilty to that charge earlier this month and his sentencing is scheduled to take place in April.

“It means a lot,” Reed said of getting a fresh start with the Tigers. “Auburn gave Bruce Pearl a second chance and Bruce Pearl gave me a second chance. I just want to thank Auburn, Bruce Pearl, Chuck Person and the whole coaching staff for just giving me a second chance.”

Trayvon Reed is shown at the foul line.

Reed’s teammates note that the newcomer is fitting in well with his team, which will take a 6-5 record into its 8 p.m. tipoff on Monday vs. the Blue Raiders.

“I’m kind of shy at first,” Reed pointed out. “I just try to figure people out. Once I got to know the players, they are pretty good players and they welcomed me in.”

With Pearl and assistant coach Person spending extra time working with Reed since he arrived with no classes and no limit on practice time, Reed has been put through an accelerated course on learning how to play with his new team.

“It’s a big help,” he said of the extra attention. “I heard when school starts back it is going to be a lot. I have been using this whole month to get better, bigger and stronger.”

Even though he is skinny, the center has had success blocking shots. He and Jordon Granger are tied for the team lead with eight. “I love blocking shots, that’s my thing,” the freshman said.

Pearl and his players have pointed out that having someone with Reed’s long reach as a rim protector is a big deal defensively. Reed understands that part of his role. “They know that I am going to be there to help,” he said. “That means a lot to them. They really ain’t got to worry about a lot.”

Monday’s game vs. Middle Tennessee State is the next to last non-conference game on Auburn’s schedule. The Tigers will play at home on Jan. 3rd vs. North Alabama before beginning SEC play on Jan. 6th at Nashville.

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