Nazreon Reid’s been a YouTube sensation since he was a 12-year-old posterizing older kids on the AAU circuit.
There’s still plenty of video out there with his sophomore season at Roselle Catholic (N.J.), including his throwdown against Florida recruit Noah Dickerson last year when the Lions played Montverde (Fla) Academy.
But where the 6-foot-8 Asbury Park native’s name is most prominent in cyberspace now is on the countless lists ranking the top high school prospects from coast to coast.
Take ESPN.com, where Reid is by far the highest-rated player in New Jersey, with St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) senior guard Tyus Battle, headed to Syracuse, his closest competition. Only 33 players in all classes have a higher rating than Reid nationally, and he’s ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2018.
Does he follow what the experts are saying about him?
“Not really. I mean, I do, but then again I don’t,” he said. “Because at the end of the day I feel as though none of these rankings can contribute to me going to the NBA. Like, say the top person, he’s good now, but will he play in the NBA? Will he get his job done? Will he proceed on his dream? It doesn’t really matter to me now. All I’m trying to do is get the job done and get to college.”
Reid is clearly positioned to be the Garden State’s next Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s a big man being pursued by every major program in the land, and a one-and-done college career seems the most likely route to the NBA.
“I have people that I have to look after in the future,” he said. “It’s just, like, I want to be able to look after them easier rather than harder. With that being said, I want my family and my friends to have something that I have, and in order for me to do that I have to get the job done.”
It transcends simply helping the Lions defend the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title they won a year ago.
“It is a lot of pressure, and those are things we will talk about,” Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff said. “Like things you don’t really have any control over right now. But I’m sure that he feels like he has an opportunity if he continues to develop and continues to do the right things to put his family in a good situation. But that’s so far from now I just try to keep him focused on the here and now. You can’t take care of that now. You can’t take care of that for a minimum of three years.”
For now, heavy is the head that wears the crown, as the Lions embark on a brutal schedule.
The banner hanging in their gym, featuring the school’s all-time leading scorers, is a clear indication of what’s expected. There’s Jameel Warney, the Stony Brook star who is the reigning American East Player of the Year. And Isaiah Briscoe, who left for Kentucky earlier this year via the McDonald’s All-American game as the school’s first 2,000-point scorer.
And with players including Brisco, Chris Silva (South Carolina) and Pierre Sarr (Monmouth) departed from last year’s team, Reid must assume a larger role, both as a scorer and rebounder and as a leader.
“His development since got here has been tremendous, both on and off the court,” Boff said. “He’s a much more conscientious student. He’s really been able to improve in that area. And as a basketball player, there were times last year where he had serious bouts of immaturity, and he’s really done a better job with that this year. He’s been outstanding on the court for us, and we look forward to him being one of our leaders.”
Rankings aside, it’s difficult to predict the future.
Teams like St. Anthony’s and the Patrick School figure to be standing between Roselle and a second consecutive overall state championship.
Reid might be among the country’s most talked-about players, but there’s a rather daunting learning curve he’ll have to navigate before he achieves his dream of playing at the sport’s highest level.
And that process starts Saturday afternoon in the season opener against Plainfield, when Reid takes the court for the first time as the Lions’ leader.