Robert Morris transfer Marcquise Reed has led Clemson to its best season in years

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 28, 2018 at 11:47 pm Contact Eric: estorms@syr.edu UPDATED: March 1, 2018 at 2:42 p.m.In a tight game against a team from Baltimore, Marcquise Reed, then a high school player at St. Vincent Pallotti (Maryland) High School, threw a questionable pass. His coach, Shae Johnson, knew he shouldn’t have thrown it. Reed turned the ball over and St.Vincent lost the game. After, Reed told his coach he would become a better point guard.“And he did,” Johnson said. “After that … everything was always steady. He learned from every mistake. That was the biggest thing for me for him in high school.”Reed, now a shooting guard and redshirt junior at No. 18 Clemson (22-7, 11-6 Atlantic Coast), has taken his talents to new heights. His team-leading 16.2 points per game have helped the Tigers to fourth place in the ACC in a year they were picked to finish 13th in the ACC Preseason Poll.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut it hasn’t been an easy path. In high school, Reed’s teammate Tariq Owens, now at St. John’s, was the one garnering attention from Power-5 conference college teams, according to Johnson.“When they would come to our practices, Marcquise would be the first thing they asked about,” Johnson recalled. “Like ‘man, we’ve never heard of him, who is that?’”Still, no Power-5 offer came. So Reed attended Robert Morris University.The university is located just outside of Pittsburgh, a little more than four hours away from his hometown in Landover, Maryland. Reed cited Robert Morris’ reasonable proximity to his home as a reason he chose to play there, as well the fact that they were in need of better guard play.“They are a winning program,” he said. “They go to the NCAA Tournament a lot. That’s something I wanted to do in my years in college, so it was just a big opportunity to play right away and get some experience.”In the 2014-15 season, Reed was the second-highest scorer for Robert Morris, averaging 15.1 points per game, just behind Rodney Pryor, who averaged 15.6. Reed won NEC Rookie of the Year honors.Robert Morris won the NEC Tournament as the four-seed to clinch a Tournament berth. Reed posted 19 points in a First Four win over North Florida before putting up 22 points in a Round-of-64 loss to No.1-seeded Duke.Reed said he has used that tournament experience to help Clemson. No one on this year’s Clemson team has been there aside from Texas A&M transfer Elijah Thomas and Michigan transfer Mark Donnal.“Those guys at Robert Morris just worked hard, never gave up and we just had that will to win,” Reed said. “So that’s what I’m trying to bring here to Clemson.”Transferring wasn’t something Reed actively thought about until after the season. He ultimately transferred to Clemson because he cherished the opportunity to play in the ACC, a conference he knew was one of the best. He was confident from his AAU days he could compete with the best. He just needed an opportunity.His AAU coach of two years, Aaron Williams was, not surprised that it only took one season for Reed to end up at a bigger school.“He stayed in the gym, and with his work ethic, the sky was the limit for him as far as what he wanted to do with basketball,” Williams said.After sitting out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Reed averaged 10 points per game his first year at Clemson while playing 21.5 minutes per game off the bench. When star Jaron Blossomgame graduated, Reed was told by head coach Brad Brownell that he would need to play a more prominent role for the 2017-18 season.While his minutes have increased, one thing has always stayed the same: Reed needs his music before each game, something even Williams recalled. Reed’s playlist includes songs by artists such as Gucci Mane, Meek Mill and Kodak Black.It helps Reed, who now plays a team-high 34.6 minutes per game, stay locked in. He said Clemson’s success this year comes down to more than natural talent.“Our chemistry has been picking up real good, and the young guys play with so much energy and effort,” he said. “So, I think it’s not so much the talent, it’s just our will to work hard and chemistry and just to play the full 40 minutes.”A 12-1 start for the Tigers led to their first AP Top 25 ranking in eight years on Jan. 1. But on Jan. 20, Clemson lost a key player for the season when senior power forward Donte Grantham, the team’s second-leading scorer, tore his ACL.Since losing Grantham, Clemson has won five of nine games. Reed said Brownell made a few tweaks to allow Clemson to play bigger, compensating for the loss of Grantham’s size. Reed also noted the team has kept Grantham involved by allowing him to offer up what he sees from the sideline. Reed said, the loss ultimately only increased Clemson’s drive to win.“It was definitely a very emotional time to lose our teammate and our brother,” Reed said. “Losing him kind of made us go harder. We basically try to win it for him too, as well, so I think losing him made us connected even more.”Johnson and Williams both watch almost all their former player’s games. Johnson even calls him often to make sure he’s taking care of his body and to offer him encouragement.“They drop a game, ‘On to the next one, stay positive,’” Johnson said he tells Reed. “If he didn’t shoot well, ‘Keep shooting the ball.’ Any key area he may have struggled in that game, I’m trying to encourage him at all times.”Both former coaches believe Reed will one day end up in the NBA because of his talent and his will to work hard.Reed plans on making it happen even if it means playing overseas or in the G-League first.“Whichever way I got to go to get there, I’ll take it,” he said.For the foreseeable future, Reed’s focus remains on Clemson. With a 22-7 record this season, the Tigers will almost certainly hear their name called on Selection Sunday for the first time since 2011. It won’t quite be Gucci Mane, but it will be music to Reed’s ears.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Aaron Williams was misnamed. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Commentslast_img

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