Austin Reaves has been like plenty of his college basketball counterparts across the nation.

The Oklahoma senior now shoots in a gym near his Newark, Arkansas, home. There’s weight training done at home via correspondence with OU trainer Bryce Daub.

“The routine is different,” Reaves said Wednesday. “Everybody’s daily life is different … I’m trying to do all the things that you do during the day. You kind of have a lot of extra time on top of that.”

While on campus, everything is structured, right down to nutrition for student-athletes. Patience is now needed while the nation and universities decide what the next step is for college athletics as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Until then, work is needed to prepare for the 2020-21 basketball season.

“You’ve got to take it as serious as possible,” Reaves said. “You’ve got to do the things that are necessary to make yourself stay up to task in these times. It’s not ideal right now. Everything happens for a reason, and you have to stay ready for any time. It could end, and we could get back to working out.”

Reaves is expected to provide leadership on a team that lost Kristian Doolittle (graduation) and Jamal Bieniemy (transfer) from a 19-12 season. The Sooners ended at third in the Big 12 standings and were projected to advance to the NCAA Tournament before the abrupt halt during the conference tournament.

“I want to be another one of the guys on the floor who can be an extension of the coaching staff,” Reaves said. “It never hurts to having multiple guys talk, guys knowing exactly what we want to do at the exact time. That’s one of the big focuses.”

Reaves, who transferred from Wichita State, was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer team after averaging 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the Sooners. He ended his first season with a 41-point performance in a comeback win in the regular-season finale.

Reaves struggled with consistency from the 3-point line. The 6-5 guard only connected on 25.9% of his 3-point attempts (42-of-162) and didn’t make more than three treys in his final 18 games. It was a surprise after Reaves made 82 3-pointers on 45.1% shooting from the arc.

OU coach Lon Kruger said he expects big things from Reaves heading into the 2020-21 campaign.

“I think if you were to ask Austin, he’d probably be the first one to say that he’s going to shoot it a lot better,” Kruger said. “If you think about how good of a year he did have and he didn’t shoot it for a very good percentage or shoot it nearly like you’d expect him to. I expect him to have a great senior year.”

Kruger pointed out that Reaves worked hard to improve his game, which includes his ability to set his teammates up.

“He had a good first two years at Wichita State, even though he was more of a catch-and-shoot guy at that time,” Kruger said. “He shot the ball for over 40 percent from three. Then during his redshirt year, he challenged himself to do all the things that he didn’t do earlier as a player, in terms of putting the ball on the floor and driving the ball and making plays off the dribble.”

No one knows when – or if – the next basketball season will begin.

But whatever happens, Reaves will be ready. There’s the loss of practice time with new teammates during the summer and not having a definite plan for a return.

“This is the game you love,” he said. “It’s not going to be hard to get prepared.”


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Eric Bailey

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eric.bailey@tulsaworld.com

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Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391