Johnson lands his 1st pledge

LSU fans have been anxiously waiting for Trent Johnson to land his first commitment for 2009 and you know what they say about good things come to those who wait. LSU picked up its first pledge and it was a big one in the form of one of the top junior college players in the country in Brad Reese.

Reese, a 6-7, 195-pounder from Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City Beach, Fla., had double-digit offers to choose from but in the end he said there was only one place for him.


“I’m going to be playing for coach (Trent) Johnson,” Reese said on Wednesday afternoon in his first interview since making his decision. “I’m going to LSU and I can’t wait to get there.”


Reese had an offer from Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Alabama, and several other high-profile schools but when it came time to compare notes on each school everything kept pointing in the same direction.


“LSU was close to the house and it’s in the SEC so those were two big things right there,” said Reese. “Then the coaches really showed me that they wanted me and outlined everything for me that I needed to do to be able to go in and play early. I just felt more comfortable and at home too.”


Not even Hurricane Gustav could derail LSU’s pursuit of Reese as he took his official visit days before the storm hit Baton Rouge and it cut his trip short by nearly a day.


The time that Reese did spend on campus, though, was spent wisely and played a big part in sealing the deal for the 3-star forward.


“Coach J is a classy dude and the people around you at LSU are all good people,” Reese explained. “I could tell that when I went for my visit. It was like I’ve been knowing those guys forever. When you feel that as a player you want that because when times get rough you need people by you that you can trust. They care about you just as much off the court as they do on it and that was big for me.”


Distance from home was a factor in Reese’s decision and when he told his family about his selection there were lots of smiles across the room.


“They were happy and just telling me that it was a long journey to get where I’m at and that I deserved all of this,” said Reese. “They like the coaches a lot and they’re going to be able to come see me play a lot.”


The journey that the standout performer took includes spending his high school years at Laurel Hill (Fla.) where he was a Class A All-State selection and area player of the year after averaging 28 points a game as a senior.


The big schools didn’t come calling like Reese anticipated so he signed with Southeastern Louisiana University.


Following a redshirt year, Reese transferred to Gulf Coast and that is when he began to come into his own.


As a freshman, he averaged 16 points and four rebounds a game playing out on the wing and also spending time at the No. 2 guard.


For his efforts, Reese was named Freshman of the Year in the Panhandle Conference but his stock skyrocketed after his showing at the Mullin Top 120 Camp in July.


“It feels good because the way I started out in college was rough but then to fight back and come out on top really meant something because nobody handed me anything,” Reese said. “I stayed patient and just worked hard. One of my goals was to play big-time basketball and now I reached that goal but I got plenty more to reach too.”


Some of Reese’s goals will make Tiger fans happy and so will his comments on the recruiting process, which he says has come to an end.


“I’m done,” he said. “Now I just want to focus on my season and on winning a national championship. Once I get those goals accomplished then it’s time to accomplish the goals we’re going to have at LSU. We’re going to start building the program and getting LSU back to where it belongs where we can compete for some championships.”


With one of the most important decisions behind him Reese now has one message for LSU fans and for the rest of the SEC.


“I just want to tell the fans that I’m coming and I’m coming there to play my hardest, and help get them back to the national championship level,” he said. “Coach Johnson is going to be able to bring in some good players and we’re going to get things going, and get LSU back to where it belongs. Just tell them I’m glad to be an LSU Tiger.”


And LSU fans are glad that Brad Reese is finally a Tiger.

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