vs. Stockton Kings
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Coliseum
The Mad Ants' roster is stocked with mostly first- and second-year players, so it's beneficial for coach Steve Gansey to have a calming presence like Davon Reed around.
“He calms everybody down,” Gansey said. “And if I'm going nuts, he calms me down, too.”
Asked how Reed is able to put the reins on his coach, Gansey said: “He'll just look at me and say, 'Coach, we've got it. It's good. Shut up.'”
Come again? Reed, one of those in his second professional season, tells his coach to zip it?
“He's doing it with respect,” Gansey said, chuckling. “But sometimes I've just got to sit back and let those guys talk (among) themselves.”
Reed, a 6-foot-5 guard, is on a two-way contract that has him splitting time between the Indiana Pacers and the Mad Ants. He has spent most of his time with the Mad Ants, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 18 games, though he has played sparingly in four games for the Pacers.
His statistics, even in the G League, may pale in comparison with those of other Pacers prospects, including Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner, but the praise he gets from Gansey is just as large.
“Davon is talking. He's got good body language. He's helping some of these guys,” Gansey said. “He's a second-year guy and he doesn't act like it, his whole personality. He wills us to victory in some games this year, and it's great to have him.”
Asked if he's really told Gansey to shut up, Reed, 23, laughed and said: “No comment on that.”
But Reed, who spent his rookie season in the Phoenix Suns' organization, went on to explain: “We've just all got to calm down sometimes. There are points in the games when we all get a little antsy, the players and coaches, and it's natural.
“My college coach (at Miami, Florida), Jim Larraņaga, always said, 'If you play the game the right way, it'll take care of itself.' That's what I want to emphasize every time I'm on the court. If we play the right way on both ends of the floor, the score will take care of itself, so let's just have poise and trust in our work and trust in our game.”
Reed played in 21 games last season with the Suns, who released him just before this season. The Pacers, who had coveted Reed throughout pre-draft workouts in 2017, pounced on him immediately. Gansey was at those workouts, where Reed's maturity was lauded, but the Suns selected him in the second round before Indiana took Ike Anigbogu, who now splits time between the Pacers and Mad Ants also.
“I'm always trying to grow, trying to learn when I'm up there (with the Pacers),” Reed said. “I feel like as long as you play the game, you have room to grow and room to learn. When I come here (to Fort Wayne), I bring the same approach that I do (with the Pacers) or with any team – a winning attitude, play the right way, and the score will take care of itself – and I just want to lead by example at both ends of the floor.”
The Mad Ants (11-11) play host to the Stockton Kings (12-8) at 7 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum. The Kings have Snider graduate Reggie Hearn, who is averaging 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 16 games this season.
He was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in November, after helping the U.S. to a 5-1 record in qualification games for the FIBA World Cup.
The Mad Ants have shown improvement recently, though they lost their last game, 127-99 to the Iowa Wolves, in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday night. Gansey hopes that Reed's leadership helps the young players get the message that consistent effort is needed every game.
“He's around these guys off the court and knows how to talk to certain individuals probably a little better than me,” Gansey said.
Reed doesn't think it's that odd that someone so young can lead so well.
“I've always been a leader on every team I've been on,” he said. “It's just a gift I've been blessed with, so I'm just trying to carry that over everywhere I go.”