Redd Remains Entrenched In His Roots

OSU basketball great and Columbus native Michael Redd has made himself into one of the NBA's premier players during his time as a member of the Milwakee Bucks. Redd was back in Columbus recently checking out the Worthington Summer League basketball action, and Kyle Lamb had a chance to talk with him about coming back home as well as some future plans he has in Columbus and some free agency talk as well.

At one point in time, roughly seven years ago, Michael Redd was just a skinny kid on the city's west side, playing basketball at West High School. He was the "other" of Columbus' tremendous basketball trio, living in the shadows of Esteban Weaver and Kenny Gregory.

A Final Four appearance, a second-round entry into the NBA draft, and an NBA all-star appearance later, Redd is one of the most sought-after shooters in the NBA and makes a frequent return to the home he grew up.

But now kids hope to play in the shadows of his legacy.

This past season, in Redd's fifth season with the Milwaukee Bucks, he averaged 23 points a game, which was good for 11th in the league in scoring. In addition, he shot 36 percent from 3-point range as one of the league's top outside shooters.

It has been a long journey for Redd, who made honorable mention All-American as a sophomore and junior at Ohio State. Redd burst onto the college scene averaging 21 points a game as just a freshman in Jim O'Brien's first season at Ohio State -- a season that finished with an 8-22 record.

However, Redd's biggest weakness in college, ironically, was an inconsistent outside shot. Since then, however, Redd has become one of the NBA's best marksmen with a lot of patience, dedication, and hard work.

"You know, it was just all working hard and really sticking to it," he said. "It was about being in the gym a lot of hours and spending a lot of time shooting and shooting some more."

While Weaver and Gregory were getting most of the press in the mid 1990's around Columbus, Redd was considered a lower top 100 type of guy who averaged 26 points a game his senior season.

Weaver was an enigma that was largely considered the top player in the nation in his class with another maligned prep standout, Schea Cotton, especially his freshman and sophomore seasons at Columbus Bishop Hartley.

Many attitude and off the court issues forced Weaver to Independence High School along with Gregory, however. Weaver never really maintained his star while at Independence, and Gregory became the more heralded of the bunch.

Gregory went off to Kansas, and Redd stayed home to play for Ohio State. It's now Redd who is the hometown favorite, as many Ohio State basketball fans are proud to see Redd carry on the Ohio State name in the NBA.

"It's obviously great to be the hometown kid and getting to stay home and play in front of your friends and family and then move on and have success in the pros," Redd said. "I just want kids to come and do the same thing after me, and if they work hard, anything is possible."

It's not just in Columbus that Redd is a fan favorite, either. Redd has become one of the fan favorites in Milwaukee as well.

That status may quickly be in jeopardy, however. Come July 1st, Redd will become a restricted free agent and may soon look around. Although the Bucks have the ability to match any offer made by another franchise, many wonder if they have the money to do so.

As of now, Redd intends to look around, and some have speculated that he may be interested in playing with LeBron James in Cleveland next season.

"Well, that's why I am becoming a free agent, so I can have those options," Redd admitted. "I am going to have those options to look around, and Cleveland will definitely be one of those options. Right now, it's just a matter of waiting until July 1st and we will see what happens."

Although Redd has not spoken with his former tutor, O'Brien, any time recently, he stays very active in the community and in support of his alma mater. Redd enjoys the job Thad Matta is doing at Ohio State.

"Coach Matta is really a great guy. He's very personable and he's doing a great job," Redd said. "I do pay attention to what's going on and I think they will do some very good things here."

Every year, including last Thursday when Bucknuts spoke with Redd at the McDonald's Summer League in Worthington, he visits the league to hang out with many of his former friends and teammates including Scoonie Penn, George Reese, and Ken Johnson among others.

"That's why I come back, just to show my support and everything," Redd said. "Even though I don't play out here any more, it's nice to come back and see everybody."

It's that kind of involvement in the community that has led Redd to begin another event around town beginning this season: Jammin' Against The Darkness.

The Jammin' Against The Darkness is an event that has been held since 1993 as an outreach program around cities nationwide for Christian NBA athletes to entertain and also to preach the Gospel to the host cities.

On August 20th, Redd will join many other NBA players, Christian Rock Artists the Newsboys and Fred Hammond, and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel at the Schottenstein Center for a jam-packed event that will include 3-on-3 shootouts, music, dunk competitions, BMX racing, speakers, and much more.

"It's really a big thing, and I'm excited to bring this to Columbus," Redd said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for myself and my peers to come here and have some fun but also let kids and people hear more about God. That's really what it's all about. We want to have fun but we also want kids to be able to rejoice and come here to learn."

As for the McDonald's Summer League, although Redd used to play, he has decided that it's best not to risk injury. He did leave open the possibility in the future, however.

But it would have to be certain circumstances.

"The situation would have to be right," Redd explained. "I guess if there were more pro players and more college players playing in the league, it would be something to really think about."

"It just would need to be a good situation," Redd elaborated of the competition factor.

This year, the 6-6 shooting guard twice scored 39 points in a game for the Bucks (30-52). He holds the NBA record for most three-point field goals made in a single quarter, as he hit eight threes in the fourth period against Houston in 2002.

Now the crafty lefty isn't someone that will be playing in anyone's shadows ever again -- unless of course he joined the Cavaliers and LeBron James.

But that aside, the former Ohio State standout has become a success story that has made a lot of Columbus locals very proud. Even Redd himself is probably taken back, although he doesn't show it.

"It's obviously a dream come true. Most every kid that grows up playing basketball wants to make it to this level and be as good as they possibly can be," Redd concluded. "I'm very happy to be doing well, but I'm happy to be back here every summer and seeing everyone I care about and have grown up with. I'm truly blessed."

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