DePaul junior big man Paul Reed has had one of the more impressive campaigns of the 2019-20 college basketball season thus far.
Even in their one loss this season against Buffalo on Sunday night, the emerging NBA draft prospect put up 15 points, a ridiculous 18 rebounds, five blocks and four steals. That kind of stat line helps show just how important he has been for the Blue Demons.
Reed, 20, has been one of the best under-the-radar prospects in college basketball. Before the season began, for example, he ranked No. 81 on our aggregate mock draft. He jumped to No. 57 on the second edition, and he could easily continue to rise.
The most recent mock draft from ESPN has him as a mid-second round pick. Bleacher Report has him at No. 33 on their 2020 NBA Draft Big Board. But he is playing closer to a first-round pick, which is where he’s being projected by Yahoo Sports.
Reed flew under the radar for a while because he was not a top high-school recruit. He was a three-star, 6-foot-5 wing who was ranked No. 271 in the nation by 247 Sports. But he has grown both literally and figuratively.
Now standing at 6-foot-10 with a wingspan The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has said to be over 7-foot, the frontcourt star took home the Big East’s Most Improved Player Award last season as a sophomore. Reed, who led the Big East in rebounds last season, is currently averaging 10.0 rebounds per game — the best mark in the conference for the second consecutive year.
His defensive presence has arguably been his most important trait as a college basketball player. He currently leads the conference in blocks, defensive win shares, defensive rating and defensive box plus-minus. Meanwhile, his block percentage (12.2 percent) ranks Top 20 in the nation.
Reed recorded eight blocks (!) when his team faced Minnesota on November 29. Those exciting defensive plays have led him to be a constant threat on the fastbreak, too. Last season, he was 28-for-32 (87.5 percent) on his transition attempts for DePaul.
That includes one of the most absurd possessions of the season against the University of Illinois-Chicago back in December 2018. Watch the way he swats the ball, is entrusted to take it up the court and then beats his defender with several different moves.
He showed behind-the-back dribbles as well as the ability to hold onto the ball with three defenders near, then finished with an attacking drive that got his teammates flying off the bench.
Then during their regular-season opener against Alcorn State this year, Reed kept the momentum alive and recorded two blocks and two steals. He was able to convert those opportunities into three buckets, creating offense for himself with his strong defense.
There have also been glimpses where he has looked solid as the ballhandler in a transition offense. While they are entirely different types of players with different ceilings, those moments of athleticism have resembled NBA players Pascal Siakam and Draymond Green.
He has already received comparisons to Siakam from Ethan Strauss (via The Athletic):
“If he’s undervalued in this draft, I can understand how it happened. Like Siakam before him, he’s now something of a skinny tweener big who can’t fit neatly into established roles and rhythms. At the college level, he’s almost miscast, asked to imitate a center’s duties while the guards handle and create. Such tweeners can be hard to count on and difficult to project. If they hit, though? A tall wing who moves seamlessly between positions and jobs is immensely valuable.”
As noted by Strauss, Reed has displayed guard-like agility despite having a 6-foot-10 frame. That has given him highlights like these, which are highly out of the ordinary for a college center.
Statistically speaking, Reed has looked especially dominant close to the basket. According to Hoop-Math.com, the DePaul forward has connected on an insane 74.1 percent of his attempts at the rim.
That has helped him be one of the more efficient players in the NCAA. Overall, he is averaging 1.09 points per possession on offense this season. That ranks in the 89th percentile among all NCAA players, via Synergy.
But he is more than just a rim finisher and his outside shot has shown some serious improvement. Reed has also doubled his three-point attempts in each year of his collegiate career.
The forward is currently averaging a personal-best 0.8 three-pointers per game. During a 25-point game against the Iowa Hawkeyes, he went 3-for-4 from three-point range. All three connections were unguarded attempts off the catch.
Some of the most encouraging news, per The Stepien, is that he shot 43.5 percent on three-pointers from NBA range last season.
If he can continue scoring efficiently and keeping up his impressive defensive presence, the future will be bright for Reed both this season for DePaul and beyond in the pros.
Note: All stats accurate as of December 8, 2019 before his game against the Univerity of Buffalo.