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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

‘You’re going to see big things from him’: Why LSU transfer Efton Reid could find instant success at Gonzaga

May 20, 2022 Updated Sun., May 22, 2022 at 9:43 p.m.

College recruiters representing some of the country’s top programs were usually taken aback by the length, size and wingspan. Then Curt Kassab introduced them to Efton Reid’s moves.

Kassab, formerly Reid’s head coach at Steward School in Richmond, Virginia, would take his skilled big man through a series of individual workouts that often began with the 7-footer displaying his skills in the paint. Reid would start flipping short hook shots through the net. First over his right shoulder, then his left shoulder. Right again. Left again.

On more than a few occasions, the drills prompted a similar response from onlooking coaches and recruiters.

“Is he right-handed or left-handed?” they’d ask Kassab.

Normally, they wouldn’t get that answer until Reid stepped outside the paint to hoist jumpers, free throws and 3-point shots with his natural right hand. It’s a testament to the versatility and skill the former LSU player and five-star recruit will bring to Gonzaga as a transfer center next season.

“Obviously, when we stretched to the 3, you could see he was right-handed …” Kassab told The Spokesman-Review in a phone interview. “He shoots his foul shots right-handed. But I’m saying it’s very hard to tell because he’s so natural going both directions.”

Reid became Gonzaga’s first transfer portal addition when he committed to Mark Few’s program on May 1, the same day the Bulldogs received a pledge from 2023 four-star high school prospect Dusty Stromer.

Reid, a 7-foot, 238-pound center, sought out a new home after his freshman season at LSU, where he averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds . Reid and a swath of LSU teammates entered the transfer portal after the Tigers fired coach Will Wade upon receiving a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

Three of Reid’s former coaches, including Kassab, along with his mother Maria met on weekly Zoom calls to help the transfer center weed through information and sort through options to ensure he’d make an informed decision.

Gonzaga resurfaced as an option for Reid two years after the Bulldogs, and specifically assistant coach Roger Powell, began recruiting the former IMG Academy/Steward School player when he was considered the nation’s third-rated prep center by Reid, who didn’t seriously consider Gonzaga out of high school because of the distance, warmed to the idea of playing at a school where big men such as Kelly Olynyk, Przemek Karnowski and more recently Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, have developed under Few’s tutelage .

“Efton is going to be a great addition to our program and somebody that is not only going to help us right away, but has great potential for development moving forward,” Few said in a news release after Reid signed with the Zags.

Off-the-court circumstances at LSU nudged Reid into the transfer portal, but those in his inner circle also believe Gonzaga provides a better fit on both ends of the floor. The Tigers seldom went to him on the offensive end. Although Reid was the only LSU player to start in all 34 games, he ranked sixth in total field-goal attempts with 187. By comparison, Gonzaga’s post players, Timme and Holmgren, attempted 396 and 280 shots, respectively.

“He’s definitely very, very skilled in the low post with his cuts and his drop steps and his footwork (is) really, really good,” Kassab said. “I said coming out as a senior he has the best back to the basket and best footwork of any big many in the country coming out. He’s very skilled.”

Despite his long frame, Reid didn’t thrive as a rim protector in the SEC, blocking fewer than one shot per game and struggling to stay on the floor at times while averaging 3.3 fouls. LSU’s switching defense often drew Reid out of the paint, forcing him to play out of position against opposing guards. The 7-footer won’t have to leave his post position as much in Gonzaga’s defensive scheme, giving him more opportunities to block and alter shots.

“His footwork is very good defensively as well,” Kassab said. “That’s why LSU I guess – that’s what they believed in, so they had the 7-footer switching on all ball screens. So just an interesting concept. I guess my point is, I think you’ll see him be a lot more effective when he’s playing the post position the way it is more generally, the way it’s normally played.”

Reid’s played on AAU teams with Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and within the same AAU program as Duke’s Mark Williams and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot. He held his ground against Williams on more than a few occasions when the two went head-to-head as high school foes in Virginia. Kassab said Reid’s footwork has been compared to that of Tim Duncan and suggested Reid and Timme are “very similar with their craftiness.”

“They’ve got a very good player and I think once he gets on campus and they see him live, they’re going to realize how good a player he really is,” Kassab said of Reid. “I think you’re going to see big things from him.”

Off the court, Kassab described Reid as “a very spiritual kid, very genuine, he’s very well-liked and he pays attention to everybody.”

Reid recently left Baton Rouge and plans to spend approximately one month home in Virginia before moving to Spokane in late June.

Kassab, who’s taken some time away from coaching, now resides in Florida and hopes to make good on a promise he made to Reid by attending a game in Spokane next season.

“I promised him I’d come down and see him at LSU, but I didn’t get there,” Kassab said. “I was fortunate to go up to the SEC Tournament and see him in Tampa here. But yeah, I’m going to make a point to come out.”

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