June 30, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Brandon Reed has Georgia on his mind.
The Atlanta native always has.
It was enough on his mind that he transferred to Georgia Tech from Arkansas State following his freshman season in 2009-10, despite winning Sunbelt Conference Freshman of the Year and leading the Red Wolves to a 17-14 record.
Last year a different Georgia, the University of Georgia, was in his thoughts as he sat on the Georgia Tech bench watching the Yellow Jackets drop a heart-breaking decision to the Bulldogs basketball team.
“I want to destroy them,” he said. “I just want to win and have the bragging rights. Last year they came here and they squeaked one out, a last-second shot. I just remember sitting on the bench like, ‘I can’t wait until next season.’ That’s all I’ve been thinking about. I never really understood how intense the rivalry was until I went to that game and saw the bad blood between the schools. I’m really looking forward to playing in that game.”
Jackets fans should look forward to seeing Reed play.
In his one season in Jonesboro, Reed was a dynamic scorer, leading the team with 15.1 ppg, breaking a 38-year school record for points by a freshman (469), while shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 33.5 from three, making 5.6 three-point field goals per game. Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice led Georgia Tech last season with 1.35 three-pointers per game.
Winning at Georgia Tech is the next step in his basketball career and he believes he can help.
“First of all, I’m a winner,” said Reed, who led Whitefield Academy, to four straight Class A State championship games, and a title as a senior. “I see myself as a scorer that can score in different ways. I’m a winner. I compete. I see myself fitting in well with the team. I’m looking forward to the season and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Part of what brought Reed home and to Georgia Tech was that winning tradition. He wants to restore some luster to a program that finished 13-18 last season (5-11 in the ACC), and missed the NCAA Tournament but is only two years removed from playing for the ACC Championship and a spot in the Sweet 16.
Of course a lot has changed since Reed first signed on the dotted line to come to the Flats. Paul Hewitt, who enticed him, is no longer head coach, replaced by Brian Gregory. Also gone are two of the team’s top scorers from last season, Shumpert, who was drafted in the first round by the New York Knicks, and Brian Oliver, who transferred.
Reed still feels right at home within the Georgia Tech family. He’s friends with junior point guard Mfon Udofia, a teammate with the Worldwide Renegades, and redshirt sophomore Kammeon Holsey, a teammate with the Georgia Stars, and also knows Glen Rice.
“I already knew that I had a couple of friends on the team,” he said. “We have very good chemistry, especially after growing up with each other, we know what each person can do and what we can’t do.
Having success with, and in front of, friends and family, adds incentive.
“I can’t even put that into words. That probably would be the best thing in my life,” he said. “Just coming back home and seeing people that never got a chance to see me play, they always heard about me but never got a chance to see me.”
The most important of those people is his grandmother.
“She was sick. She had a stroke. So I wanted to come home to be closer to her so she could see me play,” he said. “She’s doing a lot better. When she first had the stroke she was sort of paralyzed on her left side but she’s been rehabbing for over a year now and she’s able to move a little bit. So she’s definitely getting better.”
Reed believes the same thing will soon be said about the Jackets program.
“We’re out here working hard every day and making sure we get better and get ready for the season,” he said. “Hopefully we can surprise a lot of people because expectations aren’t too high since we did lose two of the top players on the team. Everybody is positive and upbeat about the season and we’re ready to prove to people that Georgia Tech can still compete in the ACC.”
He knows that competing in the ACC isn’t enough.
“It would be a great feeling to bring the national prominence back to Georgia Tech, bring it back to where it once was back when Coach [Bobby] Cremins was here and early Coach Hewitt years,” he said. “That would be a great thing to do. We’re all working hard and trying to bring it back. We know what this program means to a lot of people.”