Brotherly love: Reaves brothers to play championship game at same time

Wichita State freshman Austin Reaves and his brother Spencer to play in championships at the same time.


Hannah Roberts

Wichita State’s John Robert Simon (14), Austin Reaves (12) and Brett Barney (4) pose for a photo in the locker room.

Freshman guard Austin Reaves is playing in his first collegiate championship game against the Illinois State Redbirds at 1 p.m. Sunday. 

His older brother, Spencer, a junior guard at the University of Central Missouri, is competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championship at the same time.

The brother are under 250 miles apart. Austin is in St. Louis and Spencer in Kansas City, Mo.

Reaves’ parents watched Spencer play on Thursday then drove to St. Louis for Austin’s game on Friday. They traveled back to Kansas City for Spencer’s semifinal game on Saturday, they’re staying in Kansas City for Spencer’s championship. 

“[Being in the championship] is exciting,” Spencer said. “It’s tough though, for my parents having to choose because we play at the same time.”

Nicole Wilkett, Spencer and Austin’s mom, said the family has had to choose between the boys’ games since they were playing t-ball. Championship basketball games are no different.

“It was difficult,” Wilkett said. “We just decided to stay for Spencer’s. It’s his junior year, so he has just one year left.

“In reality it’s not a bad problem to have, both boys playing in their conference championship.”

Despite pre-game jitters, Austin tries to keep a level head and relies on his teammates and brother for guidance.

“[Playing in this tournament] feels great, it’s a really good experience,” Austin said. “I’m just trying to take it game by game and learn from my teammates that have been here before.”

Even with the distance, Austin and Spencer find ways to support each other on and off the court.

“We talk a lot, we really do,” Spencer said. “We’re close. We’re both going through the college basketball experience right now.”

Spencer uses his experience with college basketball to guide Austin through his freshman season.

“He’s got to stay in the moment,” Spencer said. “It’ll be a big time crowd, I know Wichita travels well. Stay in the moment and do what he does.”

“Whatever part of his game that is needed from him for the team to win, he needs to do that.”

Spencer believes Austin deserves all the success he’s been having at Wichita State.

“[Austin’s success] is just a testament of his hard work that he’s put in over five or six years now,” Spencer said. “My coaches always say, ‘deserve success,’ and I feel like he really has.”