Maybe it was someone else blazing through that maze of Pittsburgh players like a man on fire that March 28, 2009 night in Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden. Maybe it wasn’t Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds that rose up and floated the tear drop over the stunned Panthers to propel Villanova to the Final Four in 2009. Maybe it was an impostor wearing the No. 1 in blue.
No, no, that was Reynolds, all right. His dramatic game-winning heroics with 0.5 seconds left that gave the Wildcats a 78-76 victory over No. 1-seeded Pitt that night should have been proof enough the quicksilver 6-2 guard is good enough to play anywhere on the planet. Apparently, it wasn’t clutch enough for NBA scouts, who weren’t either watching Reynolds or simply forgot.
It looks as if they did, to let Reynolds slip away and go undrafted.
It’s actually kind of hard to believe that Reynolds is the first Associated Press first-team All-American since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 not to be taken in the NBA draft. What makes it even harder to swallow is that it comes after a season in which Reynolds averaged 18.5 points and 3.3 assists per game last season for the Wildcats, who were a top-10 team throughout the season and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.
How can that be? How can Reynolds go two rounds and not be considered one of the top 60 available choices without hearing his name called?
The other four first-teamers, Kentucky freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson and Ohio State’s Evan Turner, they all went. They were off the board within the first five picks. Reynolds was still out there waiting for his cell phone to ring.
Now I’m not saying Reynolds was lottery-worthy, nor am I insinuating Reynolds should have been a first-round pick. What I am saying is that he should have been considered among the top 60 players that were available to be selected by some NBA team.
The word is that Reynolds is too small to play with the big guys in the NBA. They say he’s not explosive enough, lacks vision or distribution skills to play point guard in “the league.” I say these so-called scouts and experts have no idea what the hell they’re talking about–when comes to Reynolds. The Scottie Reynolds I know is a player who can come off the bench of an NBA team and contribute. I’m not projecting him to be a starter, but he has the skills and the physical tools to play in the NBA.
Reynolds, I hate to say, is regrettably another example of how enamored with height, size and physical stature we’ve all become. Think about it. Would the stoop-shouldered, pencil-thin Johnny Unitas even be given a chance today, if we went by the contemporary physical criteria scouts define as eyebrow-raising worthy? Unitas wouldn’t get a sniff of a practice field today. And that’s the shame of it. What happened to performance? Doesn’t that count anymore?
Now, we have to gaze into crystal balls and guess at potential. How else can anyone explain Pape Sy, an obscure 6-7 Senegalese forward who averaged 5.2 points a game in some outpost French League, getting drafted late in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. Did anyone notice Reynolds or the success Villanova had this season? Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone?
Apparently no one did.
Well, Reynolds does have one major advantage, he can now sign and play with the team of his choosing. He can latch on with a team in need of a winner, who can play point guard in the NBA and has shown at every level he can succeed. He has some added fuel now. Let’s hope Reynolds can store that magic juice for something good, use it to step on the faces of the naysayers. He can show everyone that the blue dart that ran through a pretty damned good Pitt team one March night is worthy of wearing an NBA uniform.
It’s truly hard to understand how 60 players can get their names called and one of the top players from one of the most competitive leagues in college basketball doesn’t. It’s the ultimate head-scratcher.
But Scottie Reynolds certainly doesn’t need to show anyone around here he can play at any level. We saw it for ourselves the last two years. There’s a chance, a good chance, we’ll see Reynolds blazing down the court again for someone this coming fall. He’s too good not to leave a bunch of gaped-mouthed fools in his wake. Only now, he has 29 NBA executives to zoom by and plunk one in on them.