Whenever the Los Angeles Lakers come to Boston, it’s a huge event especially for the autograph hounds. It wasn’t any different in the 80’s when you had guys like Kareem, Magic, Coop Jamal Wilks, Norm Nixon and Byron Scott walking around the Marriot Copley mall during the 1985 NBA finals while a kid like me was trying to figure out their next move. 37 years later, it isn’t any different as the Lakers are the Lakers. Back then it was Magic and today, it’s Lebron James. The Hollywood glitz is still there as well as the superstars. Especially this season it seems like they have the most superstars ever with guys like Westbrook, Rondo, superman Howard, Carmelo Anthony and AD just to name a few. So there I was back in Boston in mid November 2021 and I had to press my luck seeing if I could get at least one autograph of these superstars. With or without Covid, getting one of these superstars to sign who are all in their own galaxy far away is about as difficult as seeing 50 cent trim down in the future. It’s also understandable that players are more hesitant to sign with Covid as well. Especially seeing a Lebron James exit the hotel is a total experience, maybe not as crazy as the Beatles in the 60’s, but the excitement of fans is definitely always there. Back in the 80’s, you could get NBA autographs a lot easier, because it was simply another time, more relaxed and security wasn’t as beefed up as it is today. Getting shut out in 2022 by the Lakers is simply realistic. That is exactly what happened. Ok so at least my buddy Lakers shooting coach Mike Penberthy talked to me a guy I covered in Germany more than 15 years ago when he was with Alba Berlin, but other than that I was totally shut out. At least seeing the stars come out and just seeing some of the outrageous outfits was better than nothing, but it is always disappointing when guys don’t sign. I thought coming in that at least some of the younger guys would sign. So when rookie Austin Reaves departed the posh 5 star hotel, I thought that at least he would stop for a second. I mean other rookie Josh Giddy of the Thunder signed absolutely everything for the autograph hounds a day later. Some people screamed Austin as he went to the bus, but he didn’t stop. I didn’t think that the name Austin Reaves would concern me ever again. Well a few months later, a German buddy of mine informed me that their could be the possibility that Austin Reaves could play for the German national team. So there was the name Austin Reaves again. I also had no idea that his brother Spencer was playing in Germany for the Bayer giants Leverkusen. I was aware of the player Spencer Reaves (191-G-1995, college: Central Mo., agency: One Motive Sports), but had no idea Austin was his brother. That is how small the basketball world is. It seems like there are very good chances that Austin Reaves could play for Germany. Despite there seemingly being worlds apart between the NBA and German Pro A, both brothers have a great relationship. Spencer Reaves (Bayer Giants Leverkusen) can call brother Austin his best friend despite beating the hell out of each other For 15 years .
Spencer Reaves who remembers current Los Angeles Lakers player Malik Monk as being his toughest cover in the NCAA was born on December 23rd, 1995 in Newark, Arkansas. He attended Cedar Ridge high school and is a little less than 2.5 years older than his younger brother Austin who is with the Los Angeles Lakes now. Even if he is the older bro, he didn’t have that classic role of being that role model, but they have a very special relationship even if now they are on other parts of earth and 9 hours away on time difference. ‘I wouldn’t say mentor as of now. Yes I forced him into the gym as a young kid but I’d say it’s more best friends especially now. Beating the hell out of each other for 15 years will do that to the relationship. We talk or play video games constantly. So I’d say we are really close’, stressed Spencer Reaves. Even if he is half way around the world, he attempts to keep up with his brother’s development in the NBA. ‘I normally wake up the next day to watch his games. I’m proud of him for being able to find the floor with some legendary players. Hopefully he keeps improving and helps the lakers win more games’, stated Spencer Reaves. So how must it be being teammates with so many superstars? Some guys would probably be totally overwhelmed seeing Lebron James on a daily basis. ‘He’s going in every day seeing Lebron James. Learning and watching him on a daily basis is insane. But Austin doesn’t really get overwhelmed by much. He might have been the first week but now I think it’s normal for him”, expressed Spencer Reaves.
Coming out of high school, the guard was only recruited by one school in South Carolina about 10 hours from home called North Greenville University (NCAA2) and that was fine for him. He just needed one opportunity to prove that he could play at that level. He proved that he could play at the division 2 level as he averaged 15.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 89.2%. He reached the last round of 64 in the NCAA 2 tournament getting crushed by Lincoln Memorial 95-62. In that game Lincoln Memorial had some very talented guys that later would play in the German Pro A with Pinson, Simmons and Choice. ‘Freshman year was great. I got lots of playing time but more importantly, we were winning. We won our conference tournament to get the automatic bid. LMU hit 3 threes the entire conference, first game against us, 16/23. So yeah not the most fun game. But they were super talented. Not surprised they had so many pros’, remembered Spencer Reaves. He achieved All-Conf.Carolinas Freshman of the Year -2015 and All-Conf.Carolinas 2nd Team -2015. He scored in double figures in 14 of 15 games including hitting S.Wesleyan for 27 points and Belm Abbey for 24 points. He then moved to the University of Central Missouri (NCAA2) where he played three seasons and 85 games. There was a good reason why he moved and never thought what would have been had he remained at North Greenville. ‘I remember mostly wanting to get closer to friends and family. 10 hours was almost impossible for family members to catch any games in person. I have thought about that scenario but I believe God put me in the exact places I was supposed to be. So I wouldn’t change anything’, remembered Spencer Reaves. In his first season he averaged 12.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 83.5%. He made a massive jump in his game in his second and third seasons averaging 17.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 85.4% and in his senior year averaged 17.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 88.6%. ‘After the losing season my sophomore year, I really decided to make changes. I didn’t want to feel that disappointment again. Then I met my friend and trainer, Gunnar Person. He would put me through workouts whenever I asked him, day or night. I really saw my game grow through the extra shots and workouts I was getting in. And I was also given that role by the coaches to be the go to guy’, expressed Spencer Reaves. In his last two seasons he scored in double figures in 53 of 56 games and scored 20 points or more 22 times. He nailed East Central for 30 points and Central Oklahoma for 29 points. His rapid growth at Central Missouri couldn’t have happened without the guidance of head coach Doug Karleskint. ‘Well coach DK and the whole staff had us working. I’d never experienced that must work and preparation in every area of the game. That definitely translates’, stressed Spencer Reaves. His most memorable game was hitting Pittsburg State with a game winner senior year. He collected further achievements there with All-MIAA Honorable Mention -2016, CoSIDA NCAA Division II Academic All-District 7 1st Team -2017, 18, CoSIDA NCAA Division II Academic All-America 3rd Team -2017, All-MIAA 2nd Team -2017, and MIAA All-Tournament Team -2017.
The guard who names his four teammates in high school Cole and Cade Crabtree, Austin Reaves, and Nate Easley as well as Jakob Lowrance from UCM as his best teammates of all-time began his professional career in 2018 with Azpeitia Azkoitia Iraurgi Saski Baloia (Spain-LEB Silver) where he played his first two pro seasons with averaging15.0ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT-3 (45.5%), FT: 82.9%, and in his sophomore campaign averaged 15.8ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 82.8%. Coming overseas for an American for the first time is never an easy task. There are many new hurdles to get used to like the culture and everything off the court. Some guys can hack it while other can’t. Every player has that wake up call and for most the adjustment period then does get better. ‘My wake up was the first week I was there. Trying to figure out where the grocery stores where and nervous I wasn’t going to find any food that I liked. I’d stop and just think randomly, ‘where am I and what am I doing here’, remembered Spencer Reaves. Some guys play 10 years before wining that first chip while others go without having that ultimate feeling on the court, while others get that first championship under the belt quicker as he experienced his second season winning the Leb Silver cup. ‘The city I lived in was a small village. The people LOVED their basketball. To be able to host the cup was incredible in its own right. I remember being down around 10 starting the 4th quarter. After having a terrible first 3 quarters, I was able to go 5/5 from 3 in the 4th and we came back to win. Very important and fun to do it for the city. I love winning in everything I do. So I think I try as hard to win every game as I did to win that cup’, stressed Spencer Reaves. Another very important aspect of getting used to being able to adjust is having that special teammate who kind of takes that rookie under his belt. For Reaves having a guy like Javaughn Powell there to guide him was perfect. ‘JP was great. We are still best friends to this day. He was so welcoming to me when I came to Spain. Showing me everything I needed to know and also making sure I was involved even though I came in halfway through the season. And he was one of the best PGs in Silver both those years. And was honestly a great passer so maybe things a lot easier for me’, stated Spencer Reaves. He showed his consistency in those two seasons scoring in double figures in 39 of 45 games including scoring 26 points against Villarrobledo and having Zamorano’s number scoring 23 and 22 points. In his third professional season he made another step moving up to the Spanish second division UBU Tizona Burgos (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 23 games averaging 10.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 46.1%, FT: 89.7%. Despite making a step up, his game grew in his three years in Spain. ‘Leb Gold was tough. A bunch of great players and ex ACB players everywhere. I’d say it’s very similar. Maybe top to bottom Leb Gold is better but the teams in Pro A could definitely compete in Gold. I learned a ton playing in Spain. My coaches there engrained into my head how to play ball screen, which is very important in the European game. I like to be more physical on both ends as well’, expressed Spencer Reaves. He hit Oviedo for 24 points and Valladolid for 23 points.
Now the shooting sensation who lists Lebron MJ Magic and Bird on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is playing his fourth professional season in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Despite all is going well as it did in Spain during Covid, he had to deal with all the challenges just like every other player on earth. ‘Covid was rough. I mean we went from practicing to never seeing some of my teammates again. It cancelled our season so quick and it was sad to not get to finish what we started. I educated myself more about certain things. Honestly just hope we can go back to a normal world sometime soon’, said Spencer Reaves. He is playing another strong season and most importantly is helping the club be a playoff team. He is having the great experience of playing with a very traditional organization that has won the most BBL titles despite having been in the second league for more than a decade. They currently face the Romerstrom Gladiators in the playoffs. ‘Here in Leverkusen it is great. As the team always says here, ‘we do things a little different here.’ It is definitely new to me but it seems to work. We have a team that works hard and loves to be around it other. Sometimes that is hard to come by on the professional level. That’s what I appreciate the most’, stressed Spencer Reaves. He is a very efficient player on a roster with many scoring options and is shooting out the lights at 47% from outside. He hit PS Karlsruhe for 29 points and 28 points against Artland where he had a league season record 8 three pointers. It doesn’t matter where he has played so far he has always been able to adapt to any style. ‘I’d say for me Spain was a little bit slower but more tactical. Since Germany can have more imports, I feel that contributes to the pace a little bit compared to only two in Spain’, added Spencer Reaves. A big reason for his success has been head coach Hansi Gnad who is a German legend having been drafted in 1987 by the 76ers and winning the 1993 Gold at the European championships with Germany in Munich. ‘Hansi is great. His coaching style is very different than I would say what is typical for Europe. But his strengths are definitely allowing each player to play their games freely. It instills a lot of confidence in each guy’, stressed Spencer Reaves.
The ex NCAA 2 player who hasn’t seen the sequel to the classic Coming America and hasn’t had good experiences with sequels as they are never as good as the first one has a unique game that people have called a poor man’s Luke Kennard. On the stat sheet, his three pointer stands out, but his game has so much more than just being able to shoot out the lights. ‘I think I am a smart decision maker with the ball and not particularly just a shooter as some may think. I like to play a solid game on both ends’, stated Spencer Reaves. I personally always like to challenge players with the impact defender question. Some agree right away while others don’t. He may never be an impact defender, but he will get the job done well. ‘I take pride in it. No one enjoys getting scored on but I also pride myself in making the right rotations. With my limited size and athleticism I don’t know if I’d use ‘impact defender.’ My defensive stats won’t impress many people but I’m going to be in the right spot. I don’t like to gamble and want the offense to have to make a good play to score, not to score off my mistake, if that makes sense’, expressed Spencer Reaves. So where will the journey go for Spencer Reaves? He is definitely a player that can play in first divisions. Seeing him battle in the German easyCredit BBL would be a treat. He knows exactly what he has to do in order to make the next step in his career. ‘I had a big focus coming into this year to improve my playmaking and I think it’s paying off. But definitely still look to improve on the defensive end. With little tips and tricks to help me be more physical and make life more difficult for the offense to score’, warned Spencer Reaves. He is a player that will surely keep growing as a player and one thing that will never change is the strong bond between the brothers Spencer and Austin. Even if both have numerous sweet memories from the basketball court, there was also a time where the brotherly competitive edge didn’t get in the way and that wasn’t even on the basketball court. ‘We were playing soccer together and were like 8 and 6 years old. I remember playing goalie one game and I dropped kicked one and it kept bouncing. Austin just decided to distract and almost screen the goalie and it gave me a goal from the other box as the goalie’, remembered Spencer Reaves. But one place where the competitive edge will always be present is in the one on one duel. They have battled each other their whole life, but who would win today? ‘The last time we played was on draft night so it’s been a little bit of time. But if anyone wants to know the answer to that question, ask him was happened that night’, laughed Spencer Reaves. Both guys have improved their game this season and it would definitely be interesting who would win a game today. No matter what happens in the next duel, they will always be best friends. That is simply how it works in the Reaves family.