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July 3, 2014

Q&A: Relationships prompt Reaves' early decision

Beating out Villanova and Georgetown, among others, for the services of Rivals150 guard Josh Reaves, it's no surprise that Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions landed a stellar athlete with a mean competitive streak.

That Reaves announced his choice July 1, just days after reiterating his intention to make a decision in late July or early August, turned out to be no accident as Reaves reveals in our one-on-one interview.

Check it out, below:

Bauer: Over the weekend, you mentioned an intention to make a decision at the end of July or early August. What prompted you to pull the trigger early?

It just felt right, honestly. Penn State, they've always been there for me. The coaches have always been really good to me, and they just treat me like I'm family. They treat me like they want me there. Not all colleges treat you and talk to you like that. So, I built a really good relationship with the coaches and I feel like I can tell them anything. I didn't really want to wait any longer. It felt right.

Bauer: With as much of a grind as the recruiting process can be, is it a relief to have it over with?

It feels good just knowing that my recruitment is over. It felt good when I actually talked to Coach Chambers and I called him yesterday. I did feel relief when I did it. I just felt like I could just focus on my high school, I could focus on the season and I could go to college knowing that I had support there and things would be a lot easier.

Bauer: As a highly-rated recruit to commit to Penn State, fans' ears perked up a little bit seeing your commitment. What was it like to see their response to your decision?

It just feels good just knowing that everybody there is... honestly, I got 300 more followers on Twitter just because of how supposedly big my name is in this area. I know it's going to be hard, but I think everything will be worth it. I know it was kind of a surprise that I decided to go to Penn State, but it's not really the name of the school, it's where you fit in the most. And I feel like at this place, I feel right at home talking to the coaches and everybody.

Bauer: Did it help to be around some of your future teammates at camp over the weekend?

Just having the coaching staff coach the games and having the players on the bench and just talking to everybody and interacting with everybody, it just shows how much they care about their program and how much they want them to get better. And then having just the players that are already committed there - having Davis on my team it just felt good knowing that I had a player I can go to for a bucket, a three-point shot every single time - and then when I was playing against Mike, just watching him automatically score in the post just because of how aggressive and how athletic he is and how skilled he is. Just seeing all of that just opened my eyes and just made me want to be a part of it and give everything I have to help them play to the highest potential, play the top-ranked teams and beat them like they have in the past years.

Bauer: Did you see an opportunity to be the guy at Penn State?

I've always been told by all the people that have helped me with the recruiting process to go somewhere where you know you're going to be able to play. Just knowing Coach Dwayne (Anderson's) story at Villanova, just waiting for a while to get his playing time and getting his chance, it doesn't happen for all those players like what happened for Coach Dwayne. His senior year was when he really shined, and some players it never happens and they end up transferring two or three times just to go to a place where they do get that chance. But just going to a place where right off the bat you have a chance to be a really big part of the team and offense, just a good run and a good chance to be top-level, that kind of did contribute to (my decision).

Bauer: Dwayne is such a dynamic, energetic and engaging guy. What has he meant to you throughout the process?

Just getting to know him - it's almost been a year since I've known him and he started recruiting me - he's always been there for me. I can tell him anything. He honestly... it's actually kind of scary when we talk to each other because we're literally the exact same person. I just know what he's thinking and he knows what I'm thinking. I feel like the relationship that we've built almost this past year has just been really strong.

Bauer: How about Pat? What did you see in him and what do you like about what he's doing with Penn State?

They went 16-18 in the past year and they had 10 games that were decided in the last few seconds. And the year before that, they didn't do so well. So if they can just get at least seven more of those games, those close games that went down to the wire, Coach Chambers has done a terrific job with recruiting and bringing in players that really love to play the game, that really want to be there, that really want to go to the max. Just seeing his energy, like the workouts that they've been having, when I went up for an unofficial I saw some of the practices and seeing how much energy he brings... even now when we're at the camp, the energy he brought with the hurt knee was just crazy to watch. All the players just mean the world to him and he truly does care for his players.

Bauer: What role do you see for yourself in helping Penn State continue to recruit well in that D.C. area?

Coach Dwayne has always told me, kids from this area want to play with the best kids that are older than them. They want to play with the kids that give their hearts to the game, and I really feel like I do that. Since he does recruit the DMV area, knowing how much success I've had here, really coming from a no-name school that didn't really do well in Division II, going to Paul VI and winning championships in one year and beating out the top competition in the DMV, I mean, just having that type of player on the team that can help recruit will just bring in more talent from the talent pool that's here, that is one of the tops in the country.

Bauer: Can you attest personally to just how good the talent is in your area?

I've been all over the country, I've played against teams from all over the country and the talent pool here now and from the past is incredible. Kids from Oak Hill, Montrose Christian, played at No. 1-rankings in the country. And some of them are in the NBA, some of them are overseas still making money and just the fact that they all came from one little area that nobody really knows about, but as soon as you hear I'm from the DMV nowadays, people get a lot of respect for it.

Bauer: Can you break your game down?

My strengths are honestly just how hard I play. When I was at the Elite Camp, having Coach Dwayne as a coach, he gave me the freedom to play. He didn't say run this play or that play, he just said to go out and play and give it everything you have and that really worked to my strength, that really worked to the point guard that we had - Alani Moore - his strength. We played with so much energy and so much tenacity, we just gave it all we had. Other than that, I try to be as much of a leader on the court as I can. I'm the one yelling at everybody, I'm the one getting on people to play defense, I'm the one trying to make everybody else better. And at the end of the day, you're only as good as your last player on the bench and, if you get everybody on the same page, the team is going to be really good. I think we did that at the Elite Camp. We went 4-0 and won the championship. Both groups that we had every single time we were out there, we were just scoring and playing defense and just giving it everything. It was a lot of fun.

Bauer: Are there any areas you'd like to see improved most?

Just the confidence with my off hand. I mean, I'm capable of dribbling with my off hand, it's just getting used to using it more and more. Just creating a shot off of it and driving a lane off of it and being able to take the bumps that I'm going to be getting next year and still going to the basket strong. And then just getting my strength better, getting bigger and being able to handle those bumps more.

Bauer: Is weight training a focus?

I've been talking to some people. They're not saying it needs to happen now, like I really need to get big now, they're just saying it's going to happen over time. I just turned 17 almost a month ago, so I still have time to develop my body and just get everything ready for the college level.

Bauer: Where do you see yourself playing?

Coach Chambers actually told me I'm capable of playing one through four. I've been labeled as one of the most versatile players in the DMV. I just don't care who I'm guarding. I had to guard a kid that went to Paul VI that was 6-7, 275 and he needled me in the post the entire time and I just went out and played. I don't care how big you are, how fast you are, how strong you are. I just play. That's really what Coach Chambers, that's the thing he thinks I'm most special for. If he uses me to the best of my ability and helps me get better, I just feel that we're going to be a really good team and everybody else will just contribute and know everybody's role and just go from there.

Bauer: Is 6-4 right? Are you still growing?

Yes. I mean, I think I'm still growing. The doctors said they think I might have one or two more inches in me. Since high school, I've gone on a one inch a year kind of thing. So, hopefully I grow a couple more.

Bauer: Anything you'd like to tell directly to Penn State fans?

Just get ready to watch the show that we're going to try to give to you guys. Every night, we're going to give it our all. No night is going to be a dull night.

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