Davon Reed has come full circle. He grew up playing basketball in his Ewing driveway against bigger, older and more experienced players. Now Reed is facing the same challenges as the second pick in the second round of the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns.
“It was definitely some battles,” Reed said, recalling his days playing against neighborhood competition. “These kids were always older than me in my driveway, so it wasn’t always me coming out with a win, but I never gave up. I always kept playing and I probably didn’t even realize how much that helped me.”
The University of Miami standout has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember. His dad, David, set him up with a court in his driveway when he was 5 years old, and he’s been playing ever since.
“This has been my dream,” Reed said. “This is always what I told my mom and my dad what I want to do.”
David and Rose Reed never doubted their son’s dreams because of the way that he worked at the game. His Ewing roots have served him well in taking on the challenges at each level to get to the NBA.
“I was one of the few people on my block that had a court in my driveway so all the people in my neighborhood would play with me there,” Reed said. “And I’ve been playing Ewing rec, Ewing travel, AAU basketball since I was in elementary school.”
Reed joins some rare company in going from Ewing to the NBA. The only other Ewing product who played in the NBA was Hollis Copeland, who played for the New York Knicks for two seasons between 1979 and 1982.
Now when Reed returns to his Ewing roots, he will come back as somewhat of a celebrity.
“It’ll be an adjustment,” Reed said. “I’m blessed. It’ll be a little different, but there’s no changing on my end. I’m happy to be in the NBA, and I know the different people that helped me get to this point and I’ll always remember them.”
Reed is scheduled to be at the Ewing Senior and Community Center to meet with fans and sign autographs on Aug. 19. He’ll be there from 8 to 11 a.m.
Reed says he is happy to serve as a role model to those growing up with the same dreams that he once had. He is living proof that they can be realized.
“I feel like God has used me in a lot of different ways for different things,” Reed said. “There are things I’ve overcome, and I feel like I definitely am an example. That’s also a part of being in this business. I’m fortunate to be in the NBA, especially after coming from a small town like Ewing. I’m embracing it, but I’m not going to do anything outside of the normal, but just try to live the right way and do the right thing.”
Reed will be trying to help a Phoenix team that struggled last year. The Suns were only 24-58 last season, but they are hoping to build around a young nucleus of talent as they look to climb the standings. They added Reed to the mix with the 32nd overall pick.
“It’s a great feeling,” Reed said. “To actually hear my name called was like a dream come true. It was such an emotional moment, and to actually sign my contact (July 6) and put it in writing was an even better feeling.”
Reed signed a four-year deal with the Suns, with the first year fully guaranteed. Unconfirmed reports place his contract around at $1.3 to 1.4 million to start. The second year, 2018-19, is half-guaranteed and the last two years are non-guaranteed.
Reed said his dream was realized at the draft, but the work is only just beginning. “It’s been a whirlwind,” he said.
The day after the draft he had to do a press conference and media interviews for the team. He was in Phoenix for two days and them went home to spend a week with his family. The following week, he was back out in Phoenix, working out with the team and having two-a-days. Then it was off to Las Vegas to prepare for summer league.
Reed seemed to match up well his first three chances against NBA talent. The day after signing his deal, Reed came off the bench in his professional debut for 17 points and shot 50 percent from the 3-point range in an 89-85 win over Sacramento on July 7 in the NBA summer league.
“I like Davon a lot after this game,” said Phoenix second-year forward Marquese Chriss afterward. “I didn’t know he was as feisty as he was. That’s someone I can go to battle with because I know he has my back after seeing what’s going on.”
Reed continued to impress his new teammates with his efficiency and contributions. He followed up his first performance with 11 points and eight rebounds in an 88-77 loss to Dallas and then 11 points, four rebounds and two steals in a 99-95 loss to Houston.
“I’ve been labeled as a 3-and-D guy,” Reed said, meaning someone who specializes in three-pointers and defense. “Those are two things I do well, so I’m willing to embrace that role, but I know I’m much more complex than that. I know that I can do a lot of different things in the pick and roll, and I can make plays for my teammates. I’m just a hooper. I go out and bring energy, bring that grit and toughness, that griminess, and I think the rest of my game will show.”
Reed has offered hope that he can help the Suns in his first year. Draft analysis was mixed on Reed. He was taken earlier than projections by CBS Sports, DraftExpress, ESPN.com, NBA.com and NBADraft.net.
“A lot of people have different opinions, whether good, bad or indifferent,” Reed said. “It really doesn’t matter. I’m blessed that I’m picked at 32. I feel like I deserve it. I’m going to go out and prove it, more or less to my team, every time I step on the floor with how hard I play, and how early I feel I’ll be able to contribute.”
Reed has been a star and major contributor at every level so far. He took different things from each of his stops growing up. He moved AAU teams in a steady climb that mirrored his ascension as a player. He started playing with the CJ Hornets before playing for the KBR Flyers out of Neptune. He found a new team, Move Your Feet, out of Hightstown before finishing his AAU time with Team Final out of Philadelphia.
“I’ve had a lot of influences in my life and people that helped me get to this point,” Reed said. “My dad definitely put the ball in my hands and got me interested in the game from my earliest memories. I’m definitely thankful for him.”
Reed’s father was no Lavar Ball, the outspoken and loud-spoken father of No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, but he helped to drive Davon to improve throughout his scholastic career.
“He coached for some stuff, but not everything,” Reed said. “If he wasn’t coaching, he was definitely sideline coaching. He always had an opinion. He definitely was on me and pushing me and telling me what I needed to hear, not necessarily what I wanted to hear.”
After honing his game in Ewing, Reed took his skills to Princeton Day School where he starred for four years and scored 2,102 points.
“I kind of established a name for myself in the county and Ewing Township itself,” Reed said. “I had expectations going into high school. I knew I wanted to take my game to the next level. With constant work, I was able to do so.”
Reed played the last four years at the University of Miami. He helped the Hurricanes to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, and as a senior was named All-ACC Third Team and All-Defensive Team. Length is a big plus in the NBA, and Reed has a 70-inch wingspan that bolsters his defense.
Reed ranks 16th on the Hurricanes’ all-time scoring list with 1,343 points, and brings a lot of playing experience to the NBA, something that helped his stock. He started 99 games at Miami and averaged 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks in 28.1 minutes.
“My biggest thing in Miami was I just wanted to play the right way,” Reed said. “A lot of people, critics, would have liked to see me do more, but I feel like I sacrificed a lot for the team and I was on some pretty good teams. We had some really good success. My biggest thing was I wanted to bring something new to the table every year, add something to my game and continue to polish my game every season.”
For his career, Reed did a couple of things that showed NBA-readiness. In addition to being able to defend well, he proved his shot-making ability. He made 43 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from three-point range and 77.7 percent from the foul line. He ranks fifth all-time in three-point field goal percentage and seventh in three-point field goals made with 202. Reed was the 2017 Skip Prosser Award winner, honoring the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top men’s basketball scholar-athlete.
“He’s a blue-collar player,” said Suns GM Ryan McDonough after choosing Reed. “We needed somebody that could defend their position, make open spot-up shots and brought some toughness and grit and reliability. We feel Davon checks all those boxes.”
Reed’s playing future could have been jeopardized by a significant leg injury his sophomore year, but he showed toughness and resolve in coming back to play for Miami that same season.
“I still ended up finishing up the year and had a pretty good year,” Reed said. “After this year, there was a lot of talk of me going anywhere from 40 to undrafted, but I knew my worth.
“I just attacked every workout and treated it like it was my last. I took it one day at a time and I think that really helped me. At the end of the day, I felt like whether I was drafted or not, I’d end up making a spot on somebody’s team.”
Phoenix worked him out twice and liked what they saw. Now Reed is taking the next steps to proving he can play with the biggest boys of them all in the NBA.
“I’m excited,” Reed said. “I don’t really get nervous. I get anxious maybe a little bit, but I’m just glad to get out and finally get back to playing some real basketball. It’s just been a lot of workouts and a lot of traveling. I’m looking forward to getting up and down again.”