Early in his sophomore year during the 2014-15 NCAA season, current NBA draft hopeful and former University of Miami guard Davon Reed was at a crossroads.
After injuring his knee, doctors said he would be out until late January, maybe even early February, meaning the year was over for him. During a somber meeting, Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga sat down with Reed and his mother and told them that if he didn’t get back in time, he would have to redshirt – meaning he would take a break year from athletics to lengthen eligibility.
For Reed, this was unacceptable. Larrañaga remembers only four words that Reed responded with – “I will be back.”
He stood by his bold statement.
Reed, then 19, got back into game-shape by mid-December and helped lead his team into the NIT Tournament. According to Larrañaga, Reed rehabbed better than anyone he had ever met.
“I don’t put any limitations on myself,” Reed said. “I didn’t want to talk about the possibility of redshirting. I just wanted to focus on getting better with a positive mindset and be able to come back quicker than expected.”
Reed, now 22 and officially a UM graduate, is projected to be selected late in the second round or go undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft that is set to take place on the night of June 22. He averaged 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and nearly shot 40 percent from three-point range in his four years at the U.
ESPN has him ranked No. 60 overall, while The Ringer and Draft Express have mocked him at No. 53 and 82 overall, respectively. Larrañaga believes Reed will either get picked between No. 45-55 or make his way onto a team as an undrafted free agent.
Standing at 6 foot 5 with a 7-foot wingspan to match up against bigger players, Reed is seen by many as a “three-and-D” type of player – meaning he has the ability to shoot spot-up three-pointers while also having the athleticism to defend professional guards.
Assistant head coach Chris Caputo believes Reed’s pro comparison is Bruce Bowen, the former San Antonio Spurs All-Defensive First Team guard.
Reed has spoken extensively with former teammate Sheldon Mac, who went undrafted in 2016’s draft but then was signed by the Washington Wizards as a free agent. Mac went on to make the roster.
“I talked to Sheldon a number of times, and he just encouraged me to go out and leave nothing on the table,” Reed said. “You can’t worry about where you’re gonna fall because those decisions are out of your hands, but you need to do everything you can to put yourself in the best position.”
Reed is being scouted largely based on his skills on the court, but his intangibles will also play a part on where his professional career ultimately goes. Reed was known at the University of Miami for his leadership and academic prowess.
“The first thing that stood out about Davon when he got here as a freshman was his high level of maturity,” Caputo said. “A lot of guys develop it, but in his case, it came with him almost instantly.”
It didn’t just happen in college.
Reed has been mature beyond his years since he was a boy – a 13-year-old summer camper to be specific.
Paris McLean, Reed’s high school coach at Princeton Day, remembers inviting him to play on the team as an eighth grader during the summer league.
“I called timeout, and I’m drawing plays,” McLean said. “We broke the huddle, and I turned my back to look at the bench. When I turned around, there was Davon, at 13, huddling the rest of the guys up reminding them of assignments – telling them ‘if this happens, go here.’ So, he was guiding my team even though he hadn’t stepped on a varsity court yet.”
This is just how Reed has always been, no matter who he was with.
“I think that’s just part of my nature being a natural-born leader,” Reed said. “I’ve always been playing up, and that’s the only way I know how to operate.”
Reed went on to guide Princeton Day to back-to-back state championship games and numerous records. He scored 2100 total points, breaking the school’s scoring record by nearly 500.
“He didn’t just break our records, he shattered them,” McLean said.
After playing in the Big Apple Classic his junior year of high school, Reed was named the Most Valuable Player of the game, despite the fact that his team lost. He was the first player in the history of the tournament to win MVP from the losing team.
Reed’s teammates in high school looked at him as their leader, not because of his skills on the court, but because he treated everyone equally. It didn’t matter if they were the first guy or the last guy off the bench, he made sure to give everyone time.
The year before Reed arrived, the team only recorded four wins. In his four years playing for the school, the team registered 11, 15, 16 and 19-win seasons.
Reed left quite the impression on McLean, who has never missed watching one of his games. McLean often texts Reed before or after his games with a “good luck” or “you shot the ball well” message.
With the draft nearing, Reed has been preparing almost nonstop, meeting with teams and showcasing his talents. He’s done multiple workouts, participated in a pre-draft camp in Chicago, signed with ASM Sports and taken part in interviews with 20-plus NBA teams.
He doesn’t really know what to expect in the coming days, but he knows he needs to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Even with his body of work, he says there are still doubters.
“People are still questioning how much I can do on the ball – if I can use the pick-and-roll to create for myself and teammates,” Reed said. “I just have to continue to show people the offensive side of my game, not just be locked into a three-and-D role even though those are two things I do very well.”
The crazy part of this whole story is Reed’s basketball success almost never happened.
During his freshman year in high school, he was seen more as a football player than a basketball player. Reed was already the team’s starting tight end when he was in ninth grade and even led the team in touchdowns. On top of that, after the school’s starting quarterback went down with a wrist injury, Reed played quarterback the rest of the season for the varsity team.
But that summer at a basketball camp, Reed realized with certainty what he wanted for his future. At the age of 15, he received his first offer to play college basketball. This was the moment he knew he had a chance to make it.
From that point on, Reed never looked back.
“Playing basketball was a dream of mine forever, but when I finally started receiving college offers, I realized this whole thing could be a reality,” Reed said.
While there is still uncertainty on where and if he will be drafted, it is clear Reed has given this everything he has.
The 2017 NBA Draft is set for a 7 p.m. start on June 22.