- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
PHILADELPHIA -- Like every parent, Rick Reynolds packed his son off to college in the hopes that the university would return to him a man.
As father and son embraced on Sunday afternoon, the father, marveling at what he's witnessed in four years, nodded.
The university had delivered.
A kid scores points.
A man pulls in the critical rebound.
A kid plays for himself.
A man plays for everyone else.
A kid relishes the joy of playing with abandon.
A man smiles knowingly at the new kids playing with reckless abandon and says, "Enjoy it now."
A kid wins Big East Rookie of the Year.
A man just might sandwich his career with Big East Player of the Year honors.
"What's remarkable to me isn't what he's doing; it's the impact he's having on other people," Rick Reynolds said. "Next year, who knows what's going to happen next year, but I know what's going to happen after this season, and that's life. What he's doing right now, impacting other people, that's life."
As No. 4 Villanova steamrolls through the Big East, rolling to a 5-0 record after escaping Georgetown 82-77, it is being steadied by the sure-handed guidance of a man.
In some regards, senior guard Scottie Reynolds always had poise beyond his years. He deferred to his older teammates to the point that his coach practically had to beg him to stop passing the ball.
He was polite, yes sir-ing his way through interviews, and coachable, taking Wright's instruction almost down to the literal definition of the word.
(Though there was that time in Reynolds' sophomore season when Villanova was playing Pitt. Reynolds showed up late.
Because he was at church).
But it was in between the whistles when Reynolds remained a kid his freshman season. With Wright's blessing if not tacit encouragement, he giddily went to the rim on a 1-on-3 break. He jacked up long-range 3-pointers without a worry even if there was a better shot available. Villanova had just graduated one of the best classes in school history and the Wildcats needed points. Reynolds' job was to provide them.
"He put up 40 against UConn and he probably took at least seven or eight [bad] shots," Wright said of the player who would sew up Big East Rookie of the Year honors with that game against the Huskies. "We would tell Mike Nardi and Curtis Sumpter, you can't do that, but he has to. That was the only way he knew how to score, to sort of just be wild."
Reynolds would average 14.8 points on 39 percent shooting from the floor in his freshman season.
Today? Reynolds leads Villanova with 19.3 points per game.
He shoots 50 percent from the floor.
He and Wright spent the offseason talking about what Wright believed was the last step in Reynolds' progression as a player: being efficient.
Against Georgetown, that efficiency was on display everywhere. Reynolds scored a team-high 27 points, hitting 8 of his 15 shots from the floor and 4-of-7 from the arc.
Mr. Big Shot, who sealed his moniker with the buzzer-beating floater to send Villanova to the Final Four last year, also scored on a drive to the hoop to seal Sunday's victory. Going from left to right, he went to the side of the basket, tucking the ball like a running back approaching the goal line and went up hard and strong to the rim. The bucket counted and Villanova, which watched Georgetown rally from a 15-point halftime deficit, owned a 71-69 lead, an edge it would never surrender.
Scottie can't be contained. I don't say that in jest. He's too good of an offensive player and they do too good of a job of getting him where he needs to be.
”-- Georgetown coach John Thompson III
"Scottie can't be contained," John Thompson III said. "I don't say that in jest. He's too good of an offensive player and they do too good of a job of getting him where he needs to be. It's nothing new. He's been doing it for four years. What's different is now as a senior, when they need a basket, he ends up with the ball in his hand and good things happen."
Were Reynolds still a kid, he would have loved to talk about that big bucket.
Instead he was more excited about a play 90 seconds later.
Georgetown rode Greg Monroe back into the game, with the sophomore pulling in 16 of his career-high 29 points in the second half. Villanova tried Antonio Pena on Monroe; it tried Mouphtaou Yarou; it tried Isaiah Armwood. If the guy in Section 124 had any eligibility left, the Wildcats might have suited him up because no one could stop Monroe's sweet repertoire of post moves or his work on the glass. He finished with 16 boards.
But the Wildcats finally found a way to handle Monroe.
Clinging to that 72-71 lead, Reggie Redding missed a jumper and in the forest of rebounders that included Monroe, the lone guy in a white jersey, the one 9 inches shorter came down with the rebound, signaling for a timeout as he fell.
It was Reynolds.
"That rebound felt pretty good," Reynolds said. "I'm not allowed to go to the offensive glass. The 1 and 2, we're supposed to go back, but the ball was there and I thought I could go get it. Of course in that situation, you have to make sure you go get it or I'm back on the bench."
Wright wasn't complaining.
"That was the play of the game right there," Wright said. "But that's what great players do. It's making plays to win the game. Not necessarily shots, just big plays."
Wright has seen this evolution before. Randy Foye came to Villanova as an unpolished guard and left as a lottery pick. Kyle Lowry came with fearlessness and speed and learned a way to channel it.
Now it is Reynolds, learning how to create a play when he needs it but be wise about his choices.
And it is Reynolds doing what his predecessors taught him -- taking the final step on the ladder of maturity and teaching the guys behind him. Maalik Wayns scored 11 against Georgetown, playing as if he was blissfully ignorant of the brutal physicality of the game, the importance of the game or the sellout crowd of 20,000-plus.
Sometimes Reynolds smirks when he watches Wayns play. Somewhere in the depths of the Villanova film room there exists game tape of Scottie Reynolds, circa 2007. He, like Wayns, crashes into the paint with almost reckless abandon. He, like Wayns, thinks nothing of jacking up a 3 in transition when a more patient shot might be the better option.
And he, like Wayns, watches and learns.
"I tell him all the time, 'Enjoy it now,"' Reynolds said, sounding very much like the elder statesman. "Pretty soon they're going to be clogging the lane and not letting you have those shots."
Someone recently fashioned Reynolds' fancy headphones with Villanova logos at Reynolds' request.
It was a small thing, especially for a guy constantly tricked out in Villanova gear thanks to his basketball career.
But to Rick Reynolds, the decision spoke volumes.
"He gets it now," Rick Reynolds said. "You go to college and at first, it's where you're going to school. But if it goes right for you, if it's really a special experience, it gets inside of you. It's part of who you are. That's what's happened to Scottie."
He's grown up.
Into a player.
And a man.
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8dESPN The Magazine