When we hung up the phones, Anthony Reason was on his way down to The Kennel for the first of two practices before resting up for an early morning departure for the East Coast where Gonzaga will take on Monmouth and Saint Joseph's. But chances are Anthony would be on his way to Martin Centre, regardless. He loves basketball that much.
A native of Ocala, FL, Anthony didn't get the chance to go home for Christmas to visit with his parents, three older sisters, one older brother and others. It was the first Christmas he had missed visiting his family in a long time. So instead, he's been running everyday and shooting baskets.
Ever since he can remember, he's been playing hoops of some sort, from the small basketball hoop in his backyard as a kid to playing AAU summer league ball as a teenager. Perhaps the most athletic Zag on the team, Anthony played plenty of other sports, including track and field where he was a sprinter. But during his sophomore year in high school he slowly began to "blow up" and by the time he was a senior he was receiving looks from nearby Florida State (among others) and a plethora of Junior Colleges.
Anthony chose the Juco route to hone his skills and up his chances at playing for a better four-year university. He ended up at Compton Community College, a California powerhouse and frequent state champions.
Why the move all the way from Florida to California?
He had a friend who was at Compton and he was hearing how great the talent was there and how good the program was. Plus, in Florida, he was seeing the same players over and over. In short, there was a different brand of basketball outside Florida and he wanted to experience it.
The choice to attend Junior College turned out to be the best choice possible. As Anthony puts it, "I really started blowing up," and soon he had serious interest from nearly all the Pac-10 schools and other major conferences. Gonzaga first noticed him rather late during a tournament and immediately liked the way he played. GU made it known that they were interested. Anthony visited the Spokane school, saw that it was pretty much studies and basketball, and he committed shortly after.
Watching the Zags make it to the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen helped the decision as well.
Reason's first year as a Zag, he filled the role of an emotional spark off the bench, the 6th man. His ability to shut down opponents became evident and now he draws the assignment of guarding the best player on the other team. But he doesn't speak in terms of "I" but rather in terms of "We" when asked about taking on a defensive assignment. Yes, he might be guarding the key player but he's quick to point out that all five of his teammates guard the ball, regardless of who is guarding whom. So Anthony feels somewhat like a policeman who has great "back up;" it's a team thing.
He admits he can score more if needed, but "Anybody can score." Reason believes great defense is what wins games and ultimately separates the good teams from the great teams.
Anthony rooms with Winston Brooks and they'll often talk about the team, how they can do better, go over the scouting reports provided by the coaches, and just generally talk hoops.
A Fine Arts major, Reason has an artistic side to him and he can see himself at a computer in the future designing bluprints for houses. But basketball will continue to be a big part of Anthony's post-Gonzaga future, even if it means going overseas.
He'd like to return to GU often and see all the friends he's made during his two-year career here. One thing is for sure: He'll always be welcome.