CatsIllustrated - Antonio Reeves adds veteran scoring punch to UK backcourt
{{ timeAgo('2022-06-17 18:49:14 -0500') }} basketball Edit

Antonio Reeves adds veteran scoring punch to UK backcourt

UK newcomer Antonio Reeves met with the local media on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
UK newcomer Antonio Reeves met with the local media on Friday at Memorial Coliseum. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)

There were times during the 2021-22 college basketball season that even the loquacious John Calipari struggled to express just how much he enjoyed coaching transfer guard Kellen Grady for one year at Kentucky.

It appears that experience led Calipari to revisit the transfer portal this spring in an effort to add another experienced, proven scorer to his backcourt following the departure of Grady, TyTy Washington, and Shaedon Sharpe.

Antonio Reeves, a 6-foot-6 wing who played the last three years at Illinois State, is eager to fill the void this season. The Chicago native averaged 20.1 points per game, ranking 19th among all Division I players, and shot 39% from 3-point range in his final season with the Redbirds.

"My ability to score the ball," said Reeves during a Q&A session Friday when asked why he and UK were such a good fit.

"And my ability to lead a team," added Reeves, who has 89 career games under his belt.

Ultimately, it was the most important skill in basketball that drew the Cats' attention.

"I can actually score the ball," he reiterated in a soft-spoken yet authoratative manner.

Reeves' shooting ability has improved steadily from the time he reached the college level. Last season, he made 76 treys, including three or more in 13 different games. He had six in a 28-point effort against Chicago State and later drained five in a 34-point outburst against Valparaiso.

He credits his shooting development to practice and a desire to get better.

"Just staying in the gym all day," said Reeves, the son of a truck driver and nurse who passed along their work ethic.

His father, who also played the game, bought Antonio a basketball goal when he was 7, and the love affair with the sport was undeniable. "I'd go back there every day, day and night, and get up shots."

One of his favorite players to emulate, Reggie Miller, was one of the NBA's all-time sharpshooters.

All of that hard work has led to an opportunity to play for one of the elite programs in college basketball, although Reeves never thought he would get this opportunity.

"When I heard it, I was amazed. Like, 'Wow.'" he said.

"I've been a fan of Kentucky all my life. I watched a lot of games when I was younger, and I know there's a lot of pros who came out of here, a lot of national championships, a lot of SEC championships."

Reeves watched last season as Grady made the successful transition to UK and expanded his all-around game. He hopes playing with other top players -- including national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe in the post -- and against the type of schedule that the Cats will face will help him take his game to a new level.

Asked what he wants to add to his game at Kentucky, Reeves cited two of Calipari's main keys to playing time: defense and rebounding. He also wants to become a more vocal leader on the court.