Sophomore Josh Reaves has given the Penn State Nittany Lions an extra hand after coming off a leg injury, which held him out of the team’s first five games. The team is 6-3 since the return of Reaves and 2-2 as he took back his role in the starting lineup after he started in 20 games as a freshman.
Reaves was recruited as a top 100 high school player after finishing his senior season at the star-studded Oak Hill Academy. The school has produced some of best talent in the NBA including Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, so it was safe to say that Reaves had some high expectations.
When Reaves came in as a freshman, he was asked to be one of the primary defensive stoppers for the Nittany Lions and took this role with great pride. He lead the team in steals and was second in blocks, as he was one of the few bright spots for a team that had trouble stopping anyone in the Big Ten.
As the sophomore gets re-acclimated to playing long minutes and fitting in with the offense, he has once again taken on his role as the team’s best on ball defender. Since returning to the team, Reaves has 24 steals, which is good for second in the conference despite playing four less games than Nebraska’s Glynn Watson Jr. who holds the top spot.
Reaves is also beginning to fit more comfortably in the offense, as he’s averaging just under 13 point per game since returning to the starting lineup. This includes a 22 point outburst in their loss against Northwestern in the team’s first game in conference play. He also is averaging 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.8 steals per game in that four game stretch, so he’s finding multiple ways to help this team get on track.
While those numbers look good, a lot of what Reaves doesn’t go in the stat sheet and could go somewhat unnoticed. He gets a ton of deflections with his long arms and also isn’t afraid to take charges in the lane. Reaves also has one of the highest basketball IQs on the team. He understands when he needs to try and create a shot for himself if the offense is stagnant, but also can take the pressure off guys like Shep Garner and Tony Carr on the defensive end and pick up the opponents best guard.
Many people around the conference might not know who this young sophomore is, but every great team needs a guy like Reaves, who is willing to do anything for his team to win. His versatile skill and ability to play deep into games, night in and night out, make Reaves one of the most important components to this young squad. The Nittany Lions are definitely happy to have him back heading into the thick of conference play, where they’ll take on Rutgers New Years day.