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Antonio Reeves: From mid-major star to Kentucky Wildcat standout

The wing played three seasons at Illinois State and is now blazing new trails in Lexington

NCAA Basketball: Stonehill at Kentucky
Antonio Reeves is averaging a team-high 18.3 points at Kentucky after developing his craft at Illinois State, where he averaged 13.4 points per game over three seasons.
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of Simeon High School in 2019, Antonio Reeves had offers from Chicago State, Detroit Mercy, Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois, Milwaukee, Saint Louis and Illinois State, according to 247Sports.

The Chicago Native, standing at 6-feet, 4-inches at the time, played alongside other NCAA DI prospects in Amahad Bynum (former DePaul guard) and Kejuan Clements (former Eastern Illinois guard).

Electing to head to ISU based out of Normal, Ill., Reeves got his first taste of Missouri Valley Conference basketball in three starts that season, averaging 7.4 points per game on 38.4% shooting for a bottom-feeding Redbird team that finished 10-21 under head coach Dan Muller.

“When I came in as a freshman I was really skinny,” Reeves said. “I made sure to continue to work out with the coaches and get stronger during my first year.”

His sophomore season, things quickly changed. Despite a worse team record, Reeves relished in a much more involved role, starting 24 of the 25 games he played that season and averaging 12.4 points per game on 42.5% shooting from the field.

As the second-leading scorer for the team that season, Reeves would get a taste of leading the team in long stretches behind guard DJ Horne.

Following his sophomore year, Reeves entered his name into the NBA draft, but after a summer training in Miami he returned back with the Redbirds.

The next season, Reeves elevated his game to another level. Averaging 20.1 points per game on 46.9% shooting and 39% from deep, Reeves led the Redbirds. But with a 13-20 record, Muller was fired late in the year.

“After our coach left, I knew I wanted to go to a winning program,” Reeves said. “My game improved, and I felt like it was time to move on.”

Like many other mid-major stars, he transferred to a Power-Five school and joined Kentucky. In his first season in Lexington, Reeves proved himself off the bench and eventually cracked the starting lineup. He scored 14.4 points per game as the second-leading scorer behind star big man Oscar Tshiebwe. In a flagship performance, the now-6-foot, 6-inch wing dropped 37 points in a win on the road at Arkansas for the Wildcats.

He tested the NBA Draft waters once again this past offseason, but Reeves suited up in the Kentucky blue for another season. This year he serves as a leader among a large group of young freshmen.

“Being a big brother to them [has been] important to me,” he said. “Besides on-court stuff, there’s a lot more preparation [to] actually being a grown-up as well.”

Now as the leading scorer for a team that stands at No. 9 in the AP Poll, Reeves continues to lead a Wildcats squad that has championship aspirations.