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Forward brings grit to Mad Ants

November 6, 2018

Davon Reed says “you can’t teach grittiness.”

So he likes what he sees when he looks around the ASH Centre and observes the makeup of his Mad Ants teammates: they battle through crowds for rebounds; go sliding on the floor for loose balls; and aren’t afraid to get physical in the right situations.

“Something I appreciate is people who play as hard as I do, people who are willing to go out and go after loose balls, be scrappy,” said Reed, a second-year player who is under a two-way contract that will have him split time between the Indiana Pacers and the Mad Ants of the G League.

“Everything else is growing pains and part of the process, but I like that people are playing hard. Everything else we can adjust to, but you can’t teach that grittiness.”

It’s somewhat fortuitous for the Pacers that they got Reed, a 23-year-old forward. They had interest in selecting him in the second round of the 2017 draft, but the Phoenix Suns nabbed him and the Pacers took Ike Anigbogu, who was sent back to the Mad Ants from the Pacers on Monday.

Reed may not look at the whole situation as good fortune necessarily. He suffered a torn meniscus in the summer 2017, the second knee injury he has had, and that derailed his rookie season.

He ultimately played 21 NBA games, averaging 3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 11.5 minutes, getting one start, and he played 12 games in the G League with Northern Arizona and averaged 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 25 minutes.

Reed, who played in college for Miami (Florida), where he was third-team All-ACC and made the All-Defensive Team, was cut before this season by the Suns to make room for Jamal Crawford. It didn’t take long for the Pacers to snatch up the 6-foot-6 native of Princeton, New Jersey.

“I was drafted last year and unfortunately I got injured, but I’ve got some NBA experience, and for me, I just control what I can control,” Reed said. “In Phoenix, I felt like I did what I needed to do to be on the roster, but at the end of the day, I was released.

“So I’m looking forward to this opportunity, and I’m going to bring my winning approach and my hard work and show where I should be.”

In the Mad Ants’ first game, a 112-101 road loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Friday, he had a team-best 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting with 14 rebounds. Stephan Hicks had 20 points.

The Mad Ants will play their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Coliseum against the Erie BayHawks.

Reed’s hard-working approach should be appreciated by fans who embraced hustle players such as Sadiel Rojas, Chris Porter and Ben Moore, who was waived by the Pacers last weekend and could be a possibility to return if another NBA team doesn’t pick him up.

“I’m somebody who is going to bring a hard-nosed winning approach and give it my all every game, every single possession that I can,” Reed said.

“I’m just somebody who’s going to make my teammates better. I expect a lot out of my teammates. I feel like my skills and my game speak for themselves.”

As tough as his rookie season was, missing so much playing time, Reed said he devoted himself to studying the game and that the results will show.

“That was an uphill battle (last season) and it’s already tough being a rookie in this league, so it was an adjustment,” he said. “But I learned from everything. I feel good now.

“I’m ready to compete and ready to show where I belong.”

Notes: As part of a multi-year agreement, more than 200 games per G League season will be available on ESPN+, a video streaming service. That will include two Mad Ants’ games in the first three weeks of this season: at Wisconsin on Nov. 14 and at Memphis on Nov. 21.

jcohn@jg.net

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