Pictures of their parents’ college athletic careers were not displayed in the Reaves’ household in Newark, Ark., so Austin Reaves and older brother Spencer had to rummage through tucked away boxes to find photographic evidence that their father and mother both played basketball at Arkansas State.
“It was kind of funny,” Austin Reaves said. “My dad played when the shorts were really short, so I always make fun of him when I see those.”
Reaves, a sophomore guard for Wichita State, has enjoyed a brief trip down memory lane as the No. 11 Shockers (8-2) prepare for Tuesday night’s game against Arkansas State (4-7) at Koch Arena.
Nicole Wilkett, Austin’s mother, was an all-conference forward for ASU in 1990-92 and averaged 21.3 points in her senior season, the second-highest season average in program history. Brian Reaves, Austin’s father, remains tied for third in ASU career assists with 384.
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“Me and my brother (who plays for Central Missouri) growing up knew they both played Division I basketball, so that’s what our goal was,” Austin Reaves said. “I never thought I would be where I am now and it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to have two parents who played for a Division I team.”
It’s been fun for Austin Reaves to hear from family and friends back home in Newark who are excited to see one of their own play the local team. But the game itself doesn’t have much significance to Reaves.
Arkansas State never made a serious push for him in recruiting due to coaching changes and Reaves has always been satisfied with his situation at WSU. Reaves said he doesn’t expect any friends or family in attendance on Tuesday, so the game has no special motivation for him.
“You just take it game-by-game,” Reaves said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Arkansas State or if it’s a conference game or if you’re playing the best team in the country. It’s just focusing on what we do best and the game will take care of itself.”
WSU coach Gregg Marshall hasn’t had time to give much thought to the connections between Arkansas State and Reaves. Since WSU’s 91-83 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, Marshall has dissected the film and diagnosed the breakdowns that led to the defeat.
Some of it had to do with the coaching staff and its game plan and some of it had to do with the players failing to execute. Marshall said WSU needs to bury that performance with a crisp one on Tuesday.
“You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth,” Marshall said. “Obviously Oklahoma was tremendous on Saturday and we weren’t. Hopefully we get a win, but more importantly just play well. Arkansas State comes in, it’s a game we should win. But who knows how we’ll play, who knows who will be able to play. We’ve got a couple of guys banged up from the game on Saturday. I’m doubtful with a couple of guys. We’re looking forward to getting back on the court, playing here at Koch Arena and trying to get a feel-good situation going.”
When asked to expand on which players were doubtful, Marshall only mentioned senior center Shaquille Morris, who he said had a contusion on his leg from the OU game. Morris participated in practice on Sunday and Monday.
Junior forward Markis McDuffie has yet to practice with the team and is scheduled for a check-up with doctors before Tuesday’s game. Depending on the news he receives, McDuffie could play as soon as Friday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast or wait to make his season debut on Dec. 30 at Connecticut.
Watching their mistakes against Oklahoma made for a tough film breakdown for the Shockers, but Reaves said accepting criticism has always been something he and his brother have had to do.
“Both of my parents were really hard on me growing up,” Reaves said. “I could have a really good game and they were always on what I did bad. That’s a good thing when you’re growing up. You can’t get too high on what you’re doing good. You have to work on the lows and that’s what they did.”
So will Reaves, who is averaging 6.0 points and shooting 40 percent on three-pointers, hear the same critiques after the Arkansas State game?
Not anymore, he said.
“I think they know coach Marshall has got that under control,” Reaves said, laughing. “They’re more positive now than they were in the past. But if I do have a bad game, they’re not going to tell me I played good. They’re going to keep it real with me and tell me what I need to work on.”