Before Willie Reed became one of the best defenders in the D-League, he was first met with obstacles to overcome following premature exit from St. Louis University due to various academic issues. For players like Reed, Glen Rice Jr., Reeves Nelson, and others over recent seasons, the NBADL has became a stomping ground for successful players looking for a second chance as they aim to bounce back from recent struggles.
With the recent news of P.J. Hairston's dismissal from North Carolina, RidiculousUpside.com was able to talk with the Springfield Armor big man about the obstacles he faced from being removed from college, and then moving on to professional basketball.
For part one of Reed's interview, continue reading below.
RidiculousUpside.com: You came to the D-League after attending a smaller school. Is it more of a challenge for a player to land a spot with a pro team after playing for a mid-major school, rather than a larger one?
Reed: No. I don't think so. If you can play and perform, then they'll find you no matter what school you attend. I chose to go to a mid-major over a high-major, and that's because of the relationship that I had with Rick Majerus. Sometimes it's not all about program, but more about the coaching, which I had with Majerus.
RU: As you may know, P.J. Hairston was recently removed from North Carolina's program. As a player who faced a similar situation, describe the challenges that you encountered.
Reed: The biggest challenge was just sitting down and figuring out what was next. For me, it was the professional basketball aspect after trying to get back into school and doing the college thing. If that didn't work out for P.J. then the next step for him will probably be in professional ball, whether that means going overseas, or using the D-League for a year of professional basketball experience---like what Glen Rice Jr. did. I think the biggest key for him is figuring out how to rebuild his image.
RU: For a player like Hairston or yourself, how is the D-League in terms of a tool to help you mature, not only as a player, but as an overall person?
Reed: It helps you grow, because you're no longer in the college atmosphere, where you have help from everybody (I.e teachers, coaches, trainers, academic advisors). The biggest thing about being a professional is that this is your job, so how you continuously get better everyday and how you use the coaching staff is completely up to you. Being on your own and making your own decisions is huge for you to figure out how much you really want it.
RU: In my point of view, it appears as though more players are entering the D-League earlier in their playing career upon not getting drafted or just being removed from school. If a top-notch high school player asked you if they should go to the NBADL or go to college, how would you respond?
Reed: I feel like everybody should have the opportunity to go to college because that experience is one for the ages. At the same time, if you're unable to do that, now you have the opportunity to come to the D-League, which is something you're seeing a lot with guys like Aquille Carr.
Last year, Carr was one of the top high school prospects, and now he's using the D-League as a year in college. I mean, anyway that you can build a resume is a great opportunity because the D-League uses NBA and Euro rules and it's a lot more physical than college. If you do decide to go the NBADL route, then it's definitely a good experience.