SANBORN – No one can blame LaTerrance Reed for playing with an edge.
The former Canisius High School hoops star has gone from co-New York State Player of the Year, to prep school, to junior college – a trek that has tested his patience in hopes of landing a Division 1 scholarship.
It’s been a long journey of 1 a.m. ice baths, crack-of-dawn shootarounds and hearing coaches say the word “interested” but not making an offer.
Three years after guiding the Crusaders to a state championship and then a federation crown, Reed is blossoming into a JUCO star at Niagara County Community College and has college coaches keeping tabs on him.
“There’s been some long nights,” said Reed, a 6-2 guard who made first-team All WNY in 2015. “Some nights where I thought to myself, ‘You’re not a Division 1 talent.’ But now, I’m seeing it pay off slowly and surely as more schools come out and see us play and contact me or [NCCC] coach [Bill] Beilein.”
In his freshman year at NCCC, Reed came off the bench as the Thunderwolves won a regional championship for the first time in nearly 40 years. A year later, he’s the straw that stirs the drink on a team that’s made up of 10 freshmen.
“He was forced to play a different role last year – he was out of his comfort zone,” said Beilein, who is the nephew of Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein. “This year, he’s been able to step in and be a leader for all these news guys. He’s improved a lot of aspects of his game. He’s a much stronger player now. Some of that physical strength has allowed him to finish better.”
Reed’s scoring average has jumped from 7.6 as a freshman to 19.1 ppg this season. He went from shooting 30 percent from the 3-point line to a 41 percent clip, which is part of the transformation he’s made at the JUCO level.
“The 3-point shooting threat has been one of the major changes in his game," Beilein said. "He’s always been able to drive and get to the free throw line, now he’s really added outside shooting to his game. He could be approaching a 50-40-90 type of year with field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage. That’s a great club to be in.”
Reed is the complete point guard Division 1 coaches drool over, but out of high school, only Niagara University came calling with a scholarship offer. After a mulling over a difficult decision, Reed chose to go to prep school and play at Salisbury in Connecticut.
“It was a decision I made based on myself and how ready I thought I was to play Division 1 basketball,” Reed said. “I used a year of prep school to put on some weight and expand my skill set. Being in the middle of Connecticut, I really only had two options: go to class and work on my game. Then I came to NCCC, and am continuing to get better and better.
“Looking back now, I think I made the right decision no matter how much of a struggle it’s been at times.”
It’s a path that many of his high school buddies didn’t have to take.
Qadree Ollison and Josh Huffman are on football scholarships at Pittsburgh and Maine, respectively. Stafford Trueheart is making appearances on SportsCenter's top plays at Hofstra. Howard Washington is the first guard off the bench at Syracuse.
“I’m never jealous of those guys and I never think, ‘Man, that could be me,’ because I know it will be someday," Reed said. "I’m happy for them because I know how hard they’ve worked to get there and know what they’re capable of, but at the same time, they know what I’m capable of and know how much time I put in.”
You can find Reed checking in with those guys through a college dorm room essential almost as common as ramen noodles and cheap beer: NBA 2k18.
“It’s funny – Howard’s in Syracuse, Stafford’s in Long Island and I’m in Sanborn, but we all meet up on our 2K group chat and we’re hanging out and talking about how we’re doing,” Reed said.
Washington is already living Reed’s dream of playing Power 5 hoops, but he’s just as excited to see his friend he’s known since he was 6 reach the Division 1 level.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I know and it’s really exciting for me to see one of my closest childhood friends so close to achieving his lifetime goal that he’s been striving for,” Washington said. “He deserves it more than anyone.”
Reed and NCCC teammate Donel Cathcart (22.1 ppg), a Cardinal O’Hara alum, have formed one of the top backcourt duos in the region and Division I coaches have noticed. While neither has received an official offer, Reed says that Nichols State, Creighton, Southern University, Niagara, Robert Morris and Post University are among the many D-1 and D-2 programs that have shown interest.
“For me, I’m not going to play the waiting game anymore,” Reed said. “If I feel like it’s the right situation and a school offers me, and I feel like I can prosper as a player athletically and academically, I’m going to take in and not look back.”