Fri, June 6: Fiery Brigham Young transfer Reid meets Illini basketball needs
After all that Robbie Reid''s been through the last two years, anything Big Ten basketball offers should be a wide-open layup on a 6-foot rim.
Iowa''s press? Piece of cake.
Michigan State''s student section? Bring ''em on.
Dan Earl? A.J. Guyton? Eric Harris? No sweat.
Try making it through one of these two-year-long Church of Latter Day Saints missions like Reid''s on. You''ll find out fast what tough''s all about.
"You''re in some of the worst places in the world as far as living conditions," said Jeff Campbell, a former missionary and Brigham Young teammate of Reid''s. "The one I was on in Germany, we had coal heaters and sometimes our restrooms were outside. You sleep a little, but it seems like you''re knocking on doors 24 hours a day, teaching people about our church. And you never get to talk to your family."
Makes Alcatraz sound like Aruba.
"Those kids leave boys and they come back men," Colorado State coach Stew Morrill said. "You go out and preach for two years and live that lifestyle without a lot of luxuries ... it really makes you mature. And it''s a tremendous advantage to have kids competing at 24, 25, 26 years old. They handle pressure a lot better."
It''s no wonder why the fiery Mormon with the two years of college eligibility remaining is the hottest transfer in Division I.
"Who wouldn''t want Robbie Reid?" said Texas-El Paso coach Don Haskins, who tried to get him twice. "I''d like to have a team filled with Robbie Reids, especially at that age."
Reid will celebrate his 23rd birthday somewhere in Greece on Sunday. That makes him two years older than Allen Iverson, the 1997 National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year.
And he''s got five years on Cory Bradford, who everyone figured would succeed Kiwane Garris as the University of Illinois'' 1997-98 point guard when he signed on in November.
Of course, that was before BYU went and fired its head coach, who also happened to be Robbie''s dad. Roger Reid was the reason Robbie came to BYU in the first place, turning down scholarship offers from Arizona, UCLA, Stanford and Lon Kruger''s Florida Gators to play for pops as a walk-on.
No Roger, no Robbie.
"Robbie liked Lon Kruger a lot when he recruited him in high school," Roger said. "That''s why I''ve said all along I think Illinois is where he''ll go."
Kansas, Virginia and Michigan, among those awaiting Robbie''s word next month, are sure sorry to hear that.
Don''t let the surfer dude hairstyle or the Book of Mormon in his pocket fool you.
Robbie Reid''s no altar boy.
"He looks like the All-American boy, but he''s tough," former Cougar Bryon Ruffner said. "And he''ll let you know how he feels."
Like that one time in the ninth grade when he slugged a kid who fouled him hard on a layup. Or all those times Robbie and big brother Randy went at it with their fists in practice.
"The Stormin'' Mormons," Sports Illustrated tagged them.
"Robbie''s always been a fighter," says his mom, Diane Reed.
Maybe he''s just still ticked off about all the games Randy used to play with him when the two were little kids. Like the one where Randy would hold Robbie''s head under water until Robbie was about to black out. Or the one where Randy would tell Robbie to go long for a pass, then throw the football into a rosebush.
Not the kind of behavior you''d expect from a couple of Mormons.
"We can''t play against each other," Randy said. "We''re just too competitive."
Robbie, Utah''s fourth all-time prep scoring leader, spent most of his youth trying to outdo Randy, Utah''s all-time leading scorer. Last time anyone saw him, he was still trying, daddy''s boys sharing a backcourt for a 22-10 NCAA Tournament team.
"I think Robbie gets his competitiveness from growing up in the family he did, with his brother being so successful and his dad being a head coach," said Bryan Hofheins, a former BYU teammate. "It just comes with the territory. Growing up like that, you gotta be a fighter."
No offense, Cory Bradford, but if Reid comes, Reid starts.
"If Illinois has better guards than him, they must be awfully good," Haskins said. "I could see this kid playing in the NBA."
Or pitching in the bigs. Illinois may be getting itself another Tim Lavery in the immediately eligible Reid, a lefty who was drafted in the 40th round by the Padres out of high school and dabbled in two sports at BYU.
Of course, he hasn''t been working on his jumper or his sinker in two years.
"It''ll take him a little while to get back in the flow," Morrow said. "But from what I''ve seen with these kids that go on missions, the maturity factor far outweights the rustiness factor."
His style is more Bruce Douglas than Kiwane Garris, with a little Brian Cardinal mixed in there. Reid was an All-Western Athletic Conference Defensive Team selection as a sophomore, averaging 10 points, five assists and two steals.
"There''s not a minute of a game that I saw where he didn''t play his butt off," said LaDrell Whitehead, Wyoming''s All-WAC guard who never got going when Reid was on him.
"We''d stick him on Dejuan Wheat, Steve Nash, Dominick Young, whoever we needed to shut down," Hofheins said. "And he usually did it."
The more challenging the task, the more Reid liked it. In Provo, they still talk about his first game against Rick Majerus'' dirty, rotten Utes.
It was on the road, Utah up 62-61, 15 seconds left, BYU ball. Roger calls a timeout and tells Robbie to work the ball inside. If nothing was there, he was to spot Randy coming off a pick.
So what''s he do?
Dribble around for 10 seconds, pull up and fire up a three.
"When he''s running the team and you''re out there, you can feel his confidence," Hofheins said. "You know he''ll either make things happen or take care of it himself."