Though it wasn’t his first choice, James Reid’s decision to wear No. 55 as a Boise State basketball player makes a lot of sense.
The redshirt senior guard had donned No. 11 his entire playing career. It was his number at Mountain View High in Bend, Ore., where he played for his father, Craig. It was his number at the College of Southern Idaho and at Arkansas Little-Rock.
But when Reid made the decision to leave Arkansas Little-Rock and walk on at Boise State, Zach Haney already had No. 11. There were no options left in single digits, either, so Reid chose the number of former NBA player Jason Williams.
Williams, known as “White Chocolate,” always played with an edge. He didn’t care what people said about his shot selection, his tattoos or his unmatched confidence despite averaging just over 10 points in 12 NBA seasons. Williams brought it every day and he was good.
Like “White Chocolate,” Reid exudes confidence. He has worked for everything, knowing nothing would be handed to him as an unheralded high school recruit who has played at three colleges. He created self-confidence through hard work.
That’s why Reid isn’t afraid to shoot a 3-pointer, even if it’s contested. He believes he’s earned the right to shoot it.
“(I) go with that Jason Williams-type mindset. It’s kind of just, screw it, whatever happens, (happens), is the most acceptable way I can put it,” Reid said. “The game of basketball has taken me to so many places. Just having a little bit of swagger like that helps.”
Reid is the same way off the basketball court, according to teammates/roommates Nick Duncan and Robin Jorch.
“He’s the one that takes care of the house, sees work that has to be done, is bringing out the trash. All that,” Jorch said. “He’s the guy that attacks it.”
Reid began this season as a starter, but was sent to the bench after three games. Rather than pout, he has once again thrived. Bumps in the road have always made Reid work harder and have molded him into a stalwart on a team that desperately needed leaders when the season began.
Now, at 10-4 and 3-0 in the Mountain West heading into Saturday’s game against San Diego State (9 p.m., ESPNU, Taco Bell Arena), Boise State is turning heads. And that is due, in part, to the mindset Reid brings to the team.
“He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve coached, as far as feel of what we’re doing,” coach Leon Rice said. “He’s going to be a heck of a coach. You can start to say something and he already has it and knows what you’re talking about.”
Despite averaging 21.7 points his senior year at Mountain View, Reid was lightly recruited and played his first two seasons of college basketball at CSI in Twin Falls. Reid then played a year at Arkansas-Little Rock, where he started 18 games and averaged 7.9 points.
But something wasn’t right in Little Rock. A 13-18 record didn’t sit well.
Rather than putting up numbers on a losing team, Reid opted to walk on at Boise State, where he quickly earned the respect of coaches and players because of his work ethic and refusal to be stagnant. After one semester, Reid was on scholarship.
“He has a passion for basketball. He’s a guy that leaves the house at 8:30 after we have dinner and goes and gets shots up. He’s a guy that influences my life a lot. He makes me want to get better,” Duncan said. “We get back (from practice) and kind of look for where he is, and he’s watching film.”
Reid sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules and earned a spot in the starting lineup in Boise State’s opening games against Northwest, College of Charleston and Mississippi State. He was replaced by sophomore guard Paris Austin who, in comparison to Reid, is a four-star recruit with jaw-dropping skill and quickness.
Reid said he was OK with the decision. He knew he was going to get his minutes as the first guy off the bench. More importantly, he liked that Boise State started winning.
“I’ve been a huge proponent of winning takes care of everything. I’d rather be a sixth man, seventh man, whatever, coming off the bench for a top of the Mountain West team than a starter, 20 points a game, that doesn’t win. Winning is what matters,” Reid said. “I was starting (at Arkansas-Little Rock) and playing more, but I wouldn’t trade that for a second.”
Reid, one of two seniors on the roster along with Duncan, is loud when he needs to be and calm when the situation calls for it. He reads his teammates and knows whether they need coddled or need a swift kick in the butt.
In a certain sense, Reid is the Bronco Whisperer.
“Sometimes I might be on a different planet. My mind might not be at basketball. It might be at academics, something off the court,” Duncan said. “And (Reid) can read you like anything. He tells you exactly what you want to hear and what you need to hear.”
In addition to being a Jason Williams fan, Reid is also a Detroit Pistons fan. Those teams in the mid-2000s with Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace perfectly embodied what Reid is all about in 2017.
“It was the edge,” Reid said. “They won in a superstar basketball world. ... I like those teams that don’t have one, but still win.”
No glitz or glamour. All grit and results. Just like Reid.
“He’s different,” Duncan said, before taking a brief pause, “in a good way. He’s a unique guy. He doesn’t have a personality where he just leaves stuff. He gets stuff done.”
San Diego State (8-6, 0-2 MW) at Boise State (10-4, 3-0)
- When: 9 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena (12,480)
- TV: ESPNU (Cable One 136/1136, Dish 141, DirecTV 208)
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler and Abe Jackson). Fans can also listen to the game at BroncoSports.com
- Series: San Diego State leads 9-4
- Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at BroncoSports.com/tickets or at the door. Prices start at $10.
- White Out: Fans attending the game are encouraged to wear white. The first 5,000 fans at the door receive a free white T-shirt.