For nearly every Laker fan, Austin Reaves’ ascendence from undrafted rookie to standout role player seemed to come out of nowhere. Long before he landed in Southern California, though, Reaves was doing more than turning heads and catching eyes of scouts and coaches.
In his recent profile of Austin Reaves, Dan Woike of the LA Times detailed some of the Austin Reaves’ high school basketball exploits, and, my word, was he incredible. In his senior season, Reaves averaged 32.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists while leading his Cedar Ridge team to a 35-3 record and a third state title in four years.
The specifics of those scoring outbursts are incredible, as Woike wrote:
There was the time he scored 33 of his 57 points in the fourth quarter, a game capped with a buzzer-beater for the win. He averaged more than 40 points. In the state title game, he scored 43 after battling a slow start and foul trouble to win for the third time in four years.
But none of those games was like the one he had on Dec. 4, 2015, against the Forrest City Mustangs, a team that eventually won a state championship three divisions higher than Reaves’ Cedar Ridge team.
Reaves scored 73 points in a wild 117-115, triple-overtime win.
The details of that 117-115 game are sparse online, as is just about anything from rural Arkansas high school athletics. Reaves scored 15 points in the fourth quarter of the game and an additional 18 points in the three overtime sessions. Remarkably, he did that all on just 18 made field goals as he shot 34-37 from the free throw line in the game.
James Harden, eat your heart out.
Reaves would turn that high school success into a college career at Wichita State and Oklahoma before departing for the NBA. He hasn’t quite touched his 73-point mark from that memorable game in high school, though he did have a memorable and historic triple-double to close out his season.
Perhaps the Lakers should talk to his high school coach to figure out how to unlock him so he can become the third piece of the team’s Big 3 next year.