This article appears in the December 2005 edition of SchoolSports magazine.
When it comes to Pennsylvania hoops, the Philadelphia Catholic League is like the Big East Conference. There are plenty of talented teams that bring it every night and rarely are the games lacking pressure situations, especially on the road.
In fact, you'd have about as much luck stopping Allen Iverson one-on-one as finding a player who can relax during PCL games. But St. Joseph's Prep senior shooting guard Reggie Redding can at least find comfort knowing he has his own cheering section, no matter where the venue.
Redding's family makes it a point to attend every one of his games. If there's a tough moment in a game, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder knows he has support from his parents, Reggie Sr. and Darlene, along with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
"Just knowing that they're there, I feel comfortable," says Redding Jr., who's rated the nation's No. 94 hoop recruit in the Class of 2006 by SchoolSports.com and is headed to nearby Villanova to play his college ball.
"As many of us that can go, we go watch him," adds Redding Sr. "We all make it, even to his AAU games, so we can support him. I think he really enjoys it."
Redding Jr.'s family has been supporting him in his basketball endeavors since his father put him in a hoop league when he was 6. Redding Sr. never pushed his son to play, though. Rather, he just loved playing basketball with his son and would shoot hoops, especially free throws, with him whenever he got the chance. It was during those shooting drills that he realized Redding Jr. had unlimited potential.
"When we used to play and we used to shoot free throws, he used to make them and make more than me," says Redding Sr. "He was making 45-of-50 free throws and he was only 11."
Redding Jr.'s tremendous skills began to really take shape when he was a freshman on the JV team at St. Joe's. Varsity head coach Speedy Morris saw those skills, but the varsity squad was loaded that year and ended up going 30-2 and winning the school's first PCL title since 1971. Morris felt it was better to let Redding star on the JV than ride the pine on the varsity.
"I knew he was going to be good just watching him play JV as a freshman," says Morris. "At the practices, he showed he was good enough to almost play. Towards the end of his freshman year, he was holding his own."
Redding played phenomenally well on the JV that season, leading the team to a 20-1 record. What was even more amazing than his play, however, was that he broke his left ankle a month before the season started and was supposed to miss the entire year. But he worked hard in rehab and made it back on the court by January. It was a sign that Redding was willing to do whatever it took to play hoops.
"I was doing my rehab as the season was going on," he says. "I was doing more work than they told me to do so I could rehab faster."
Redding stepped up to the varsity as a sophomore and has shown he belongs ever since. His sophomore season, he averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game and led St. Joe's to a second straight PCL title. Last year, he averaged 21 points, 10 boards and four assists per contest and guided the Hawks to the PCL finals, where they lost to Neumann-Goretti.
Redding doesn't wow spectators with incredible athleticism, but he has an extremely smooth all-around game. He can stick the mid-range jumper, is a very good passer and does all the little things well. Simply put, he's an old-school baller playing a new-school game.
"His future is bright," says Morris, who's in his fifth year at St. Joe's. "He's going to get better, and he has a chance to go to the next level."
Morris certainly knows what it takes to play in the NBA considering the players he's coached during his career. Before coming to St. Joe's, Morris was at La Salle University, where he coached the men's hoop team for 15 years and the women's team for two. While with the men's squad, he mentored the likes of future NBA ballers Tim Legler, Doug Overton and Lionel Simmons, who was the NCAA National Player of the Year in 1990.
But while Morris is impressed with all of Redding's stats and skills, what really stands out is that when Redding plays, he wins. In fact, his teams went a combined 73-10 from freshman year through junior year.
"He leads by example," says Morris. "He's a very good passer. He sees a pass ahead. That's very rare for a high school player. He could easily average 25 points per game, but he knows it wouldn't make the team better. He has a great feel for the game."
"I try to do whatever I have to do to get the win," adds Redding. "I pride myself more on getting the win than getting the statistics. It feels better to me."
Redding credits his dad with instilling in him the importance of hard work and being a team player. While Redding Sr. is his son's biggest supporter, he's also his biggest critic and tells his son to never rest on his laurels.
"I try to keep him grounded," says Redding Sr. "I try to explain to him that no matter how much you've accomplished, you can always get better. Not everyone is blessed with this talent, and you have to appreciate it."
Rather than shrug off his dad's feedback, Redding Jr. soaks it up like a sponge. He values the opinions of his family because they're his biggest fans. So when it came time to pick a college, Villanova seemed like the logical choice since it was so close to home.
"(Villanova head coach) Jay Wright and the coaches expressed how they were family, and that really grabbed Reggie because he comes from such a tight family," says Redding Sr. "Being such a tight family, location helped too."
So next year, when Reggie Redding Jr. is playing in the Big East, there's no need for him to get nervous. After all, his family will be cheering him on every step of the way.