Meet Austin Reaves: The freshman who ‘catches a lot of people off guard’

Through the tunnel, he leads his teammates. They follow, patting his scrawny shoulders, chanting, “73! 73!”

To an outsider, the praise might not make much sense.

“He catches a lot of people off guard,” Wichita State redshirt freshman Landry Shamet said.

Austin Reaves, a 6-foot-5 guard out of a small-town in Arkansas, leaves defenders guessing, especially when they see him bringing the ball up court.

Coach Isaac Middlebrooks of Cedar Ridge High School, Reaves’ former high school, described Reaves as “a pure point guard.”

Reaves could easily have been born to play the position. His mother Nicole and father Brian played basketball for Arkansas State. His mother was an all-conference forward in her final season. His father, who also played point guard, is still on the university’s leaderboard, tied for third for career assists.

His background in the position is deep in his roots, but Austin plays the position a little differently.

He scores — a lot.

In his senior season at Cedar Ridge, Reaves led the team to its third title in four years.

He was named the MVP of the state tournament, averaging 43 points for the four-game tournament. As a senior, he averaged 32 points, 8.8 rebounds and five assists per game.

“His scoring numbers stand out, because that’s what he needed to do in order for his high school team to be successful,” WSU head coach Gregg Marshall said. “But we think Austin is the complete package.”

Still his teammates show praise, crowning him the nickname “73,” after Reaves scored 73 points in a triple-overtime win over the eventual 5A champion, Forrest City. He scored more than 56 points multiple times at Cedar Ridge.

Reaves said he had to step up the scoring his senior year because his team needed it. He said he sees himself as a pass-first guard. Marshall added praise calling him the team’s “best post-passer.”

In college, Reaves wants to get back to the traditional point guard duties.

“I still want to be a point guard,” he said. “That’s my mentality.”

Reaves suffered a torn labrum, requiring shoulder surgery in March. He recovered during the summer, delaying a bit of strength conditioning.

He suggests the process is “right on track.”

Reaves played 12 minutes tallying three assists two rebounds and two points in WSU’s exhibition against Division II opponent Augusta on Saturday.