June 10, 2009
NCAA Riches to NBA Rags is The Dagger's countdown of the best college basketball players who went on to have disappointing NBA careers. For an explanation of the criteria used in compiling this list, check out our introductory entry. Today we look at No. 8, North Carolina's J.R. Reid.
The most amazing part about J.R. Reid's career at North Carolina is also the reason he isn't regarded as highly as he deserves. In his three seasons in Chapel Hill, Reid never made a Final Four. That makes him a rarity among Tar Heel greats like Ford, Jordan, Perkins, Worthy, Montross, Wallace, Carter, Stackhouse, McCants, May, Hansbrough, Lawson and Ellington, guys who played in one, if not more, Final Fours. Don't let that fool you though. J.R. Reid was one bad dude in college.
He was 6-foot-9, 240 pounds before 6-foot-9, 240 pounds was the norm. He was a freshman star when that was the exception, not the rule. And, oh, that hi-top fade.
When Reid was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated during his freshman year, Curry Kilpatrick wrote of him:
Reid's post-up, one-hand elevator jumper, either facing the basket or turning around, is already one of the more dangerous weapons in the sport, especially as an option to his line-drive, baby jump hook, which he releases as opponents' bodies bounce off him. Then there's his precise drop-step move, and his change-of-direction dribble -- he has gone coast-to-coast as middle man in the Tar Heels' break on several occasions. His hands are massive prime cuts, something out of a meat locker. The touch. That body. In the lane J.R. is virtually unstoppable.
Reid led Carolina to an 88-15 record in his three seasons at the school, each of which finished with the Heels ranked in the AP's top 10. He was a three-time All-ACC performer and a first-team All-American, which led to his being selected with the 5th pick in the 1989 NBA draft. But, Reid could never duplicate his college success in the pros. He was the definition of an NBA journeyman, playing for seven teams, including twice for the Charlotte Hornets, the team that drafted him.
It's sort of sad that Reid is probably best remembered now as the butt of a frequent joke from the Cameron Crazies. Those so-called clever fans used to hold up signs that said "J.R. Can't Reid", a practice that eventually incensed Dean Smith so much that he publicly called out the Duke students and pointed out that Reid had higher SAT scores than Danny Ferry and Christian Laettner. Unfortunately, all three had similarly disappointing NBA careers.
NCAA Riches to NBA Rags countdown:
No. 9 -- Adam Morrison
No. 10 -- Danny Ferry