C.J. Reed has graced the hardwood at the UCF Arena twice before.
In both 2009 and 2010, Reed tried to lead the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats past the UCF Knights. Each time, the point guard from Daytona Beach scored in double digits (12 points and 11 points, respectively), but came up short of leaving Orlando with a win.
This fall and winter, however, Reed will likely get that first win, and plenty more, at the UCF Arena. Reed will take the court as a Knight after transferring from Bethune to UCF and sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
For Reed, it will be a nice change of pace to have the notorious fans of the UCF Arena, specifically the student section infamously dubbed the “Knightmare,” rooting for, and not against, him.
“It’s a great atmosphere [at the UCF Arena],” Reed said. “You have loyal fans; it’s one of the toughest places to play.”
Now, though, instead of defending the men in the black and gold, Reed will be passing to them. The former Wildcat said it’s a unique and beneficial opportunity to be working alongside players of whom he’s watched plenty of film and studied.
“It’s going to help me,” Reed said. “I know what they do best.”
Finding a new program
Not too long ago, Reed probably wasn’t overly concerned with transferring.
A former Mid-Eastern Conference Player of the Year, Reed was enjoying a successful career in Daytona with his father, Clifford Reed, coaching the Wildcats. A scandal unfolded, though, and when Reed’s father was fired he decided to look elsewhere to play out his final season of eligibility. Reed considered only three schools, he says, and UCF stood out among the pack.
“UCF was unique. It gave me a chance to, first of all, graduate. Second, it gave me a chance to win with a great nucleus coming back,” Reed said. “[Proximity] played a huge roll."
It also didn’t hurt that Reed fell in love with the East Orlando campus at first sight.
“It’s a beautiful campus, one of the best in the country without a doubt.”
Once Reed arrived, it didn’t take long for him to feel at home — rising senior power forward Keith Clanton made sure of that. The Orlando-native made the Daytona Beach-native feel right at home with an even-keel and outgoing sense of humor.
“Keith Clanton has a unique personality, so the first day I met him … he can put a smile on anybody’s face,” Reed said. “He’s funny, goofy … at any moment, he can make you laugh.”
Summer is a busy time for most athletes.
Most coaches subscribe to the belief that while preseason camp and in-season practice are about improving the team, the offseason and the summer are about improving the individual. For Reed, though, it’s not that simple — he’s also got to continue to learn a whole new system.
“This summer is kind of double duty for me. I’m trying to get myself better as well as learn the offense and things of that nature,” Reed said. “Bethune was more of a motion-type offense; we slowed it down a lot. But here it’s up-paced, up-tempo; get out and go.
“On the offensive side, we’re going to run a lot more here.”
Reed, an experienced and intelligent player, stands to gain substantial playing time this fall in a loaded backcourt. Head coach Donnie Jones has put together a backcourt with Reed, Oklahoma-transfer Calvin Newell and returners Marcus Jordan and Isaiah Sykes.
“With Calvin’s quickness, with Marcus’ strength, and with Isaiah’s size and strength, you get to see a lot of different looks,” Reed said.
Experience and a level head with the ball are not the only things Reed brings that UCF could use.
Reed has the ability to be a knockdown shooter, something the Knights sorely missed last season following the departure of perimeter–threat Isaac Sosa. The lack of a pure shooter contributed to a scoring attack that often bogged down.
“I’ve been working on [shooting] since I’ve got here. Just being a knockdown shooter — off of screens, off of screen-and-rolls, off of Keith [Clanton],” Reed said.
“I’ve got to be ready to make open shots.”
Reed believes he has done more than just find a place close to home to complete his collegiate career.
In UCF, the guard believes he has found a program on the rise, primed for bigger things.
“I came here, definitely, to win. And to go to the NCAA Tournament — we want to win games in the tournament, too; we don’t just want to go,” Reed said.
“This year we could be very good. I think this program is going to new levels and new heights.”