A large dose of introspection — and a chat with a close friend — has led Paducah Tilghman’s JJ Reed to take a unique approach in what he hopes is a fruitful college and professional basketball career.
Tuesday morning on social media, the four-year Blue Tornado star and 2018 Mr. Basketball finalist announced his intentions to attend Beckley Prep Academy in West Virginia this upcoming fall, where he’ll officially reclassify for the Class of 2019 and develop his head, his heart and his hands even further before jumping into a bigger world.
After averaging 18.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 54.5 percent from the field (198-for-363), 33.3 percent from the arc (18-for-54) and 55.2 percent from the charity stripe (96-for-174) this past season, Reed had considerable junior college and Division II interest. He also held an early Division I offer from Samford and possessed other letters from Campbellsville, Kentucky State and Georgetown College.
Though “blessed to have those opportunities and those schools targeting” him, Reed noted his hope is to take his game to one more level before making any sort of rash choices.
“I just feel like I have a lot of potential, and I don’t want that to go to waste by me making a quick decision,” he added. “This prep is going to give me some time to open my eyes and realize what I want to do with this basketball dream.”
Reed was able to watch some of the potential in former AAU teammate and good friend Chance Moore, who had a stellar career at Fern Creek High School before spending one year at Beckley Prep.
There, Moore parlayed his skill-set (and 6-foot-7 frame) into offers from schools like Butler, Virginia Tech and Dayton before ultimately signing with Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers.
“He was at Beckley Prep last year, and I saw how much success he was having,” Reed said. “I could see myself in his shoes, being able to get some of that success for myself.
“I ended up calling the current coach — coach (Cortez) Brown, who also coached Chance — and I asked him about the school and was telling him how interested I was in the school and (the team). The interest went both ways. I sent him my film, and they loved me. I took a visit last week and I loved the facility. I’m just excited to be there.”
Reed’s decision to reclassify had less to do with the offers he currently held and more to do with the desire to improve himself in a myriad of categories — perhaps none more than his mental acuity for the game.
“I feel like I can humbly say that I’m a talented basketball player,” he said. “But the main thing I need to work on is my confidence. That would go a long way. Sometimes in the past, I wasn’t able to make plays or create offense for myself or others because my confidence level wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
“The main thing I want to do is make sure I work on my game day-in and day-out and make sure I work on my confidence level. I need to get that and still remain humble.”
He’s also hoping some learned lessons while at Paducah Tilghman will go a long way toward his desired success at the next level.
In fact, being a Blue Tornado is a big reason he wants to find the next level in the first place.
“The biggest thing that I learned (at Tilghman) is that you can’t really rely on only the things that you’ve learned in practice,” he said. “If you want to be a next-level guy or be able to expand your game, or any craft, you have to be willing to do things outside of what normal people do. I learned a lot at Tilghman, but I also learned that I can learn more. I just need to be able to look past the normality and realize that there are more things to be learned.”
He’ll leave for Beckley Prep in June after his graduation, then spend a full year within the program before putting himself back into the recruitment pool — where he'll still have four years of eligibility remaining.