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Cruise Control

Dec. 13, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

A lot of Brandon Reed’s game is built around speed and quickness, but he needed to slow down. So, a while back, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory told the sophomore guard just that: slow down.

It appears to have taken.

After a fairly dreadful shooting stretch, Reed’s put together back-to-back games where he’s not only played much better but made the Yellow Jackets notably better as well.

He scored 12 points in a win at Georgia and 16 in a win at Savannah State, making a combined 10-of-14 shots while turning the ball over just once in each game.

Before that,

“I was trying to do too much all at once,” he said. “Coach told me to slow down. He said, `You’re not going to be able to make up for the year you sat out.’ “

Reed was on the sideline last year after transferring from Arkansas State. His first game as a Yellow Jacket was sweet and sour. He scored 16 points in a win over Florida A&M, but turned the ball over six times.

He slipped back to eight points and three turnovers in a win over Delaware State, but then made just 17-of-61 shots over the next six games. About then, Gregory told him to put on the brakes.

“He’s starting to figure out his shot selection at this level. So much was asked of him as a freshman where even a bad shot might have been a good shot,” the coach said. “He’s taking the ball to the basket more.

“We’re a much different team when we have that other scorer on the perimeter, and Brandon’s done that the last two games.”

Reed made 2-of-3 three-pointers against Savannah State, but he’s really more about getting to the basket. The 6-foot-3 former Whitefield Academy star has a knack around the goal that belies his modest size.

He’s started every game, though, and he’s averaging 4.3 rebounds per game, which is stout for a player his size.

The mere fact that he’s at Tech is a story. He had no intention of leaving Arkansas State, where he was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year after leading the Wolves in scoring with 15.1 points per game and 16.8 in league play.

Then, family came up. His dear grandmother, Betty Blackmon, drew ill.

“When I left Arkansas State for the summer, I didn’t plan on transferring. When I got home, my grandma was really sick,” Reed said. “I grew up with my grandma until I was 8 or 9. My dad told me she had a stroke. I visited her in the hospital, and she basically cried her heart out and told me to come home.”

Soon thereafter, Reed was considering Tech, Clemson and Tennessee. Former Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who had recruited Reed in high school without having offered a scholarship, was among the very first to contact the left-hander after he gained his release from Arkansas State.

“I felt that Georgia Tech was the best option for me because I knew I was going to get a great education, and I was going to get to play in the ACC,” he said. “And the fact that Tech had been in contact before probably tipped it.”

Reed hopes one day to be a broadcaster, and he’s working toward that end while pursuing a degree in Science, Technology and Culture.

He’d like to think, and Gregory hopes, that’s he’s past the point of playing beyond his means while trying to be something that he’s not.

“I’m not a shooter per se; I can score in different ways. I got back to going strong to the basket. That helped my confidence,” Reed said. “I was so busy trying to prove that I can play at this level. I’m just playing my game.”

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