“If you would have asked me then I would have said no way,” Reese said with a big laugh.
That was then but now that Trent Johnson has taken over the LSU men’s basketball program the Tigers are in the mix for the Gulf Coast Community College product.
The 6-7, 195-pound swingman took his official visit to LSU last weekend and even the impending landfall of Hurricane Gustav couldn’t dampen Reese’s spirits.
“It really changed my view of LSU,” said Reese, who averaged 16.7 points and 4.1 rebounds a game as a freshman guard/forward at Gulf Coast. “I had to leave late Saturday because of the traffic and the storm but even though everything was crazy I could tell that LSU was the kind of atmosphere you want to play in. The campus was real nice and the coaches were all so cool.”
Reese said that Chris Bass served as his player host from the time he got to campus around noon on Friday until he left on Saturday around 5 p.m.
That was Reese’s first opportunity to meet the players and get their perspective on LSU and he liked what he heard.
“I hung out a lot with Chris and then Storm Warren too,” said Reese. “We talked a lot about the coaches and campus life since it was all new to them too. They seemed like they really liked it there.”
Grabbing some lunch after the long drive from Panama City Beach, Fla. was at the top of Reese’s to-do list once he hit campus.
Talking to Trent Johnson in person was one another item high on his agenda and once he got the opportunity to meet him Reese was even more impressed than he anticipated.
“He is a cool dude, he really is,” Reese stated. “I love his personality. He is kind of laid back and is just a cool coach that you want to play for.”
Being laid back may surprise some because most seem to think Johnson is very business-like in his demeanor.
Reese said he could see where people would think that but there is more to the headman than meets the eye.
“He is a real business-like kind of guy but you can tell that he’s a real cool guy,” explained Reese. “He wants to win real bad but you can really talk to him. He doesn’t put up a front or anything like that. He’s a down to earth guy that knows a lot about basketball and wants to win bad.”
After Reese spent some time talking to Johnson and the other assistant coaches he made his rounds to tour the campus along with his father, who made the drive with him.
“The campus was real nice and the academics are real good,” Reese said. “Everything you need as a student athlete is right there for you at LSU. My dad really liked that part about it.”
The next day got started a little earlier than usual for the 3-star prospect as he found himself sitting in Tiger Stadium at 10 a.m. as LSU kicked off its 2008 campaign bright and early against Appalachian State.
The atmosphere was obviously a little different with all of the events that were taking place but it still made a strong impression.
“They didn’t have as many fans because of the weather but it’s understandable,” Reese said. “It was still a good atmosphere and a good time.”
Following the game, Reese and his father met with the coaches a little more before they made their way back to the Sunshine State.
One thing that the coaches hammered home to the standout performer was right up his alley.
“Everything is set up for me if I go in and work,” Reese said. “If I go in and work I can play a lot early and playing time is really important to me. They talked to me a lot about how I can meet a big need and be one of the guys that helps them turn things around.”
When we spoke to him two weeks ago he said he didn’t want to name a top five and he was still considering the 10-plus schools that have offered.
Things change quickly and often in recruiting and they have changed with one of the top junior college players in the South.
“Right now, my top three is Oklahoma State, LSU and Alabama,” Reese said. “Texas Tech and Arkansas are still in there too.
“Going in and meeting all of the coaches at LSU and the people over there along with the playing time really opened my eyes,” he added. “I like LSU more and more.”