Wi­chita State trans­fer Reaves has found new start at OU

The Oklahoman - - HEISMAN EXTRA - Joe Mus­satto jmus­[email protected]­la­homan.com

NOR­MAN — Austin Reaves loathes the nick­name, but that didn’t stop Chris­tian James from chant­ing it in­ces­santly as the two play­ers walked off OU’s prac­tice floor Thurs­day.

“Show­time, Show­time, Show­time,” James kept on, be­fore slightly ex­ag­ger­at­ing that Reaves scored 60 points in the late af­ter­noon prac­tice.

There was no chance Reaves, a trans­fer guard, was go­ing to shush James, OU’s se­nior scor­ing leader. All Reaves could do was smile and en­dure the rite of pas­sage as a first-year Sooner.

The prac­tice gym is the only place to watch Reaves play in an Ok­la­homa uni­form. He’s one of the most overqual­i­fied scout team play­ers in the coun­try.

Reaves has to sit out this sea­son af­ter trans­fer­ring from Wi­chita State — the team his new squad faces at 11 a.m. Satur­day at Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena in Ok­la­homa City.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be awk­ward,” Reaves ad­mit­ted.

The Ne­wark, Arkansas, na­tive trans­ferred in May af­ter play­ing in 66 games span­ning two sea­sons for the Shock­ers. His trans­fer didn’t re­sult from a lack of suc­cess or play­ing time. Reaves was a reg­u­lar for Wi­chita State, av­er­ag­ing eight points in 21.5 min­utes per game as a sopho­more.

Reaves shot 43 per­cent from 3-point range last sea­son and set a school record by mak­ing seven con­sec­u­tive threes against Tulsa last Jan­uary. So why did he trans­fer? “That’s a hard ques­tion,” Reaves told The

Ok­la­homan, choos­ing his words care­fully. “I just didn’t feel like I was able to play my game there at Wi­chita. I just felt like it was time to move on.”

Wi­chita State coach Gregg Mar­shall and Ok­la­homa coach Lon Kruger are known to have vastly dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. Mar­shall is fierce while Kruger is uni­ver­sally liked, though Reaves didn’t blame his for­mer coach for his de­par­ture.

“They’re both as suc­cess­ful as any coach in the na­tion,” Reaves said. “What­ever they do works. There’s a big dif­fer­ence in the style, but I’m happy I got to play for both.”

Reaves said Wi­chita State’s ros­ter turnover was the main rea­son he trans­ferred. One of his room­mates, Landry

Shamet, turned pro. The other, Brett Bar­ney, trans­ferred to Omaha.

The team­mates he came to col­lege with were largely ab­sent, and with­out those con­nec­tions came the need for a new start.

Reaves’ phone woke him up one morn­ing shortly af­ter his de­ci­sion to trans­fer. He hadn’t pub­licly an­nounced the move, but the news had leaked.

“I thought it was my mom, so I rolled over and an­swered the phone,” Reaves said.

The voice be­longed to Michi­gan coach John Beilein, who heard Reaves was on the mar­ket.

Reaves went through re­cruit­ment all over again, tak­ing vis­its to Pur­due and North­ern Iowa be­fore com­mit­ting to Ok­la­homa.

Nor­man is six hours from his Arkansas home, and he was fa­mil­iar with Kruger and the Soon­ers hav­ing played them in his fresh­man and sopho­more sea­sons at Wi­chita State.

“I knew the style would re­ally fit the way

I played,” said Reaves, who makes it known he’s more than a spot-up shooter.

That was just the role re­quired of him on backto-back NCAA Tour­na­ment teams. Reaves shows off his full game on the Lloyd No­ble Cen­ter prac­tice court, against James and the other Sooner starters — a group he might be a part of if el­i­gi­ble.

“He’s tougher to guard than the guards we’re lin­ing up against,” James said. “He’s re­ally helped us on the de­fen­sive end.”

Af­ter all, Show­time is a nick­name that comes with ex­pec­ta­tions.

“He don’t like it, but that’s the name I gave to him. Kobe in the flesh, man,” James said with a smile. “No, he’s re­ally tough though. He has a com­plete game of­fen­sively.”

Satur­day, Reaves will sit near the end of OU’s bench at Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena — re­mind­ing Wi­chita State fans of what they’re miss­ing, and Ok­la­homa fans of what’s to come.


Ok­la­homa guard Austin Reaves treats prac­tices like games as he sits out this sea­son af­ter trans­fer­ring from Wi­chita State.

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