As daily life slowly opens back up in America one of the regular highlights of the offseason is starting to return–summer basketball.
One of the biggest events to take place so far was last weekend’s LakePoint Live Showcase, a weekend tournament that brought together some of the best players in Georgia and the surrounding areas. For Gator fans, this meant a look at their major 2021 wing commit Kowacie Reeves Jr. who took the floor for Georgia Magic.
With Reeves Jr. playing a leading role for his squad and every game immaculately streamed online, it was an absolute treat to watch the future Gator star.
The first impact Reeves Jr. had on the viewing audience happened even before the opening tip.
He looked noticeably taller and longer than most of his opposition, and it certainly had the appearance that he had grown since I had last seen him.
This feeling was confirmed by his father Kowacie Reeves Sr. who told me he recently had a doctor’s appointment where he measured in at 6’6” and 176 pounds. Even more encouragingly, he shared that upon evaluation of his growing plates he thinks he could still grow another inch or two. For a player that has legitimate guard skills he already has superb size at 6’6” and if he were to grow any more it would just be gravy.
For those who have followed the commitment of Reeves Jr. since the Gators first offered him in 2018 you’ll know that back then he was 6’2”. Then, a year ago he was listed at 6’3” or 6’4” depending on your source. He has clearly had a major growth spurt, something that has really opened eyes about his game to both high school evaluators and NBA scouts.
Now that we’ve established just how tall he is as a perimeter player we can get into the skills he showed off at the showcase. Right from the jump of the first game he made it abundantly clear that no one was going to be able to guard him in space. Reeves Jr. has a nice handle and the best part about it is that he is economical with his bounces. Oftentimes you see young players wanting to string together multiple dribbles, showboating the hours they’ve done in the gym to learn the combinations. Reeves Jr., on the other hand, knows when he’s able to beat his man off the bounce and uses the fewest number of movements to burn him and get into the paint.
While his ability to win one-on-one battles with the dribble was impressive, what was even more salivating to watch was his work with jab steps from the top of the lane. When he caught the ball and squared up he was nearly unstoppable with his uses of jabs to the left or to the right to force the defender’s hand before going the other way and sprinting into the lane. Reeves Jr. is so long with such long strides that defenders had to respect any jab step as if they didn’t respond to it he could put the ball down and go straight towards the rim, something that made him a devastating scorer out of triple threat. When it comes to players that use the dribble to get penetration in high school it can sometimes be tough to visualize how it’s going to work in college but when it comes to jab step packages and the ability to catch, jab, and go it’s far easier to see that translating to the SEC. While Reeves Jr. does have ball handling skills and the ability to play the point it is most likely he’ll be playing the wing at Florida and that’s where his ability to catch the ball off a reversal, jab a defender one way, and then drive the other is going to really be effective.
After burning defenders by either crossing them over or jab stepping them into oblivion, the next element of Reeves Jr’s game that jumped out was absolute explosiveness when attacking the rim and finishing above it. Obviously his 6’6” frame helps him when it comes to getting the ball high above the rim but it shouldn’t take away at all from his quick twitch athleticism. Reeves Jr. is quick to get up and doesn’t need big, slow gather steps to muster all the power necessary to fly, he seemingly just glides down the lane and takes one quick step before taking flight.
This made for a few monster dunks that left backboards shaking and defenders embarrassed and it’s hard not to see those displays of athleticism and be incredibly excited to see him in orange and blue.
Reeves Jr’s fluid athleticism is the result of a lot of hard work, as well as a routine his father told me about. Every night before bed he does an extensive yoga-style stretching routine, something that certainly makes sure his muscles are lengthened and taken care of. Flexibility is a huge part of getting all the explosion out of muscles, and Reeves Jr. is getting every little bit.
Even though Reeves Jr. could get to the rim at will he didn’t spend all his time in the paint as he made sure to showcase the outside game as well. He has been known as one of the best shooters in the 2021 class ever since he was a freshman and as he has continued to grow he hasn’t lost the stroke. Over and over again he pulled up from long range, sometimes moving to his left and sometimes his right and it didn’t seem to matter, he’d always get his legs underneath him and take balanced jumpers that splashed.
There were also points of the game where the Georgia Magic team cleared out and allowed Reeves Jr. to enter hero mode and when that happened he went nuclear. Heat check after heat check fell for him as he continued to take more and more difficult shots from further and further out and at points it seemed like he was a cheat code in a video game. These isolation possessions at the top of the key where nearly everyone on the court stood and watched knowing Reeves Jr. was going to go one-on-one and pull up weren’t exactly functional basketball scenarios and don’t demonstrate the role he’s going to play in college but man, seeing him nail tough shot after tough shot was fun.
Overall it was a fantastic showing for Reeves Jr. that demonstrated why Florida’s coaching staff is so high on him. His blend of athleticism, shooting, and size is exactly what makes up a star player in modern basketball and you have to be extremely excited watching him play. Florida’s 2021 class is off to a great start with Kowacie Reeves Jr. and he’ll definitely be a big part in attracting more talent.