Tyrel Reed: A Kansan at Kansas is about as good as it gets
Tyrel Reed is the essence of Kansas basketball.
Not just the university, where he’s a starting guard for the highly ranked Jayhawks, but of a state that loves its college basketball. When a small community product becomes an important component of a championship-level squad as a senior while excelling in the classroom, well, that’s about as Kansan as it gets.
Coach Bill Self appreciates the story, but his reliance on Reed isn’t based on any sense of duty to the home state.
“You recruit guys and say, ‘Yeah, could be a two-year or one-year starter, could be a blend-in guy or a rotation guy over time,’” Self said. “But Tyrel has probably been our most consistent performer this year.”
This is precisely what Reed envisioned growing up in Burlington, Kan., a town of about 2,800 located 75 miles south of Lawrence.
So many Kansas kids dream of playing for the Jayhawks, Kansas State or Wichita State. Not many become recruiting targets of the state’s three Division I programs. Reed did because of a natural athleticism that was nurtured by his father and high school coach, Stacy. After the final bell rang in his elementary school, Reed would jog nearly a mile to the high school to catch the team practice then hang out afterwards and shoot. When they weren’t in the gym, father and son would work on Tyrel’s skills at home.
“My dad would always go out there and work with me in the yard,” Reed said. “And he taught me when I was little that you have to work hard for the things you want.”
Reed always knew he wanted to play for Kansas, but that didn’t stop others from pursuing the player who as a high school senior was named Mr. Basketball for Kansas and the state’s Gatorade player of the year.
Oklahoma, Missouri and Stanford offered. So did North Carolina, whose coach Roy Williams, was reminded of one of his former Kansas players – Kirk Hinrich – when he saw Reed play. But during the recruiting process when Reed was waking up at 5:50 on weekday mornings to get in shooting at the high school before classes started, he was thinking about the Jayhawks.
“My heart was always here,” Reed said.
The minutes weren’t always there early in his career. Reed appeared in 23 games and averaged six minutes as a freshman on the Jayhawks’ NCAA championship team. His role as a sophomore and junior was to provide offense and a steady hand off the bench. In 2010, Reed connected on 47.3 percent of his three-pointers and had an assist-turnover ratio of 2.5-to-1. Reed won his starting spot as a senior but looked to be more of a glue guy, a player who holds a team together often by deferring to others. But that’s not how it has worked out.
Kansas has needed Reed’s scoring punch and athleticism. His scoring average has hovered around 10.0 throughout the year, and among the five guards Self regularly plays, Reed is the rebounding leader. Through 20 games he’s the only player announced in every starting lineup and he leads the team in minutes.
Reed also leads the team in every academic category. He’s bidding for a third straight academic All-Big 12 selection and has been a member of the commissioner’s honor roll in every semester. He wrapped up his undergraduate work in exercise science in December, and plans on attending physical therapy school.
None of this was unexpected. Reed never made less than an “A” in his high school years. That, too, is part of the small community values that helped shape Reed. Throughout his career he’s heard from so many parents and kids who have described him as a role model.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” Reed said.
He has, every step of his career.