NEW YORK — Sure, being known as a Big Shot Friar has a nice ring to it. A.J. Reeves, however, was on a mission whose origin can be traced back to what he was putting into his mouth.
Need proof that the route he chose is paying off? Listed at 205 pounds, Reeves gladly shared that he’s shed 20 pounds since the end of last season.
“My thought process behind losing all this weight was simple. I want to have the best senior year I can have as possible,” said Reeves. “I set out on this diet to come back more explosive and lighter on my feet.”
Sitting at a table positioned along the baseline at Madison Square Garden, Reeves used Tuesday’s Big East Media Day to talk about the steps he's taken with an eye toward a productive 2021-22 season with Providence College.
Before laying out the battle plan, let's first talk about a player who’s eager to shake free of the trick-or-treat label that fairly or not has defined his time in a Friars uniform.
On multiple occasions, Reeves gave off a vibe that he was on the verge of turning the corner following a got-to-have-it timely make. See Marquette on the road during his sophomore year along with last season’s late-game 3's against Seton Hall and DePaul. For some reason, the rhythm that always seemed to be there when Providence needed it the most never seemed to translate over a prolonged stretch of games.
Reflecting on last season, Reeves admitted he probably bulked up in the muscle department a little too much. He ended up registering career lows in field-goal percentage (35.3%) and 3-point accuracy (35%).
The first step in the road to authoring what Reeves and the Friars hope will be a more upbeat tale started with eliminating meat from his diet.
“It was hard at first, but I stuck with it,” said Reeves.
Stepping on the hardwood during the summer provided Reeves with the drive to keep going.
“It only added to it,” he said. “I would step on the scale and see progress. I felt good, too.
“The results on the court … I was having fun and making shots,” Reeves added. “Everything felt natural.”
Cutting out meat in favor of seafood wasn’t a problem. You name it — salmon, cod, haddock — and Reeves is a fan.
“I would have it here or there, but I really dove into it,” he said.
Looking back to last Friday when Reeves collected 31 points on 7-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc as part of an intrasquad scrimmage that took place before fans at Alumni Hall, the native of West Roxbury, Mass., saw his basketball world collide with his now-preferred choice of sustenance.
“The off-court diet is big, but on the court, [the outburst as part of the Black & White game] showed the work I’ve been doing in the gym,” said Reeves. “When I came out and hit the first shot, it all came back to me. It felt good. When you’re playing basketball, when you’re having fun and being confident, it can be dangerous.”
Along those lines of playing with a distinctive swagger, Reeves gladly hopped in the not-so-distant time machine to the night he made his Friars debut — Nov. 6, 2018. He established a PC freshman scoring record in an opener — 29 points on 10 of 13 from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range.
“For someone like me, I’m liable to hit three or four in a row after hitting the first one. The ball keeps finding you,” said Reeves. “Seeing one go in early in the game … you know the stroke is there. Now you have your teammates egging you on to hit another one.”
The target has been lined up with Reeves taking aim at achieving more heavy-volume scoring outbursts, the kind that offers further proof that basketball players are made in the offseason.
“Just trying to be a more consistent player. I just don’t want to show up for the last minute of the game,” said Reeves. “I want to put it all together and show that I can take over games. If you don’t think it’s too taxing and go out and do it, the results will be there.”
Added Providence coach Ed Cooley, “I’m proud of A.J. for his development and leadership. Losing the weight has helped him. I’m looking forward to him hopefully leading us to a Big East championship.”