Reynolds takes unlikely route to Sweet 16
Scottie Reynolds (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Scottie Reynolds (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Posted Mar 24, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. - When Scottie Reynolds and his high school coach, Gary Hall, made the initial call to Villanova's Jay Wright, the Wildcats didn't have any room for the one-time Oklahoma signee.

It was, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Scottie Reynolds had just gotten his release from the Sooners after Kelvin Sampson bolted for Indiana. After watching the wide-open, guard-friendly attack that Wright employed, both Reynolds and his coach were in agreement that the Main Line would be an ideal spot.

"We couldn't take him because we didn't have a scholarship," Wright said. "I told him he should play for Jeff Capel at Oklahoma."

Then Kyle Lowry decided to leave early for the NBA and everything changed.

"I called him back and we were basically handed a McDonald's All-American on a platter," Wright said. "Everything that happens to us in recruiting, we can never complain."

Reynolds played what Wright called the best game of his college career in Sunday's 84-72 victory against Siena. He scored 17 first-half points to help 'Nova build what was an insurmountable lead, and finished with 25 points, a career-high eight rebounds, five assists and just a pair of turnovers.

It came on the heels of a 21-point effort in an upset of No. 5 Clemson on Friday night.

"He really made his teammates better today," Wright said. "He did a terrific job handling their press."

Wright wasn't certain what to think when Hall made that inquiry back in April of 2006. His roster at Villanova has been filled with recruits that he's known for years, mainly from Philly, New York or New Jersey. He knew guys like Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi, Curtis Sumpter and Jason Fraser for what seemed like an eternity — and knew exactly what he was getting when they arrived on campus.

Wright had only seen Reynolds play once — by accident — when he was actually recruiting Reynolds' understudy, point guard Chris Wright, on the Boo Williams summer-league team in mid-July down at the Peach Jam.

Wright said Reynolds was so impressive that he turned to one of his assistants and asked him why they weren't recruiting Reynolds. The answer was that Reynolds was off the board as an Oklahoma pledge.

Reynolds' freshman season appeared as though there were no adjustment issues. He went for 40 against UConn and earned Freshman of the Year honors in the Big East. But things weren't as smooth as they seemed.

"He struggled," Wright said. "We just didn't know each other that well."

"It was hard for me," Reynolds said. "I had to make a decision that other people take two, three or even four years to make and do it in a month and a half. I didn't know anyone in the program or anything about the situation, to be honest. The whole year was tough."

Now Reynolds looks like one of their own. He's even got the bandage over his right eye to prove it.

"We joke with him that he put that on so that he looks like he's from New York and is tough," associate head coach Brett Gunning said.

Reynolds wasn't the only one who showed toughness in 12th-seeded Villanova's unlikely run to the Sweet 16, where it will meet Kansas on Friday in Detroit.

Dwayne Anderson battled through an ankle injury and dehydration that found him sprawled out with his entire body shaking behind the bench on Friday night. Reggie Redding limped off the court after the win against Siena with what Wright feared might be a broken ankle or a stress fracture. Casiem Drummond also suffered an ankle injury that had him on crutches for the second half.

Just 18 days ago, the Wildcats were a team that was one game away from not even qualifying for the Big East tournament. They wound up going on a late-season run that had them as the final team included in the NCAA tournament field.

"I'm in shock," Wright said. "I'm so surprised to be standing here."

Wright figured that if all went well, he'd coach a couple of games and then go over and watch his beloved Philadelphia Phillies face the New York Yankees in Tampa.

"It would be a dream weekend," he said. "But now I'm chickening out. I've got to go back with the team."

He's glad Reynolds is going with him.

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for He can be reached at or check out his blog, Good 'N Plenty.

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