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Ridgewood center right on schedule

Andrew Reed knows that height and talent are not enough to make him into a great player.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Don't crowd Andrew Reed. He needs room to grow.

Don't look at the junior center's towering 6-foot-7 frame and assume that he has arrived.

Don't think that the Ridgewood standout is ready for stardom. That he doesn't have room to improve. That he doesn't have a lot to learn. That he's just going to show up and throw down 10 thunderous dunks a game and opponents are going to roll over.

The truth is that Reed is already a pretty good player, one of the best big men in the county on one of its best teams. But it's also true that he still has a lot to learn, and a lot of growing to do.

The best is yet to come for Reed, and won't it be fun to watch? Well, for the Rams, that is.

"He's still a work in progress, but he has so much potential," Ridgewood coach Gary Anders said. "I've had some other players who, just because they're tall people, think you're supposed to be able to do everything, and that's not true.

"They've got a lot to learn just like everybody else. But he's on schedule."

Reed certainly seems like a player who knows his place on the court. Laid-back and mild-mannered, Reed talks about how he can improve as a player and as a teammate.

Yes, people are talking about him this season, about the 2 inches he's grown over the offseason and some of the new wrinkles he's added to his game. Not that it matters to him.

"This year I'm getting more publicity," Reed said. "I don't really think about people looking at me, I look at myself and I expect myself to do better.

"I don't care about the hype. If I don't work (on my game), it won't happen. If we don't work, we're not going anywhere."

What Reed brings to the Rams, the Class 4A, District 8 front-runners, is a physical scoring presence inside the paint and a tenacious appetite for rebounding. He's boxing out better, playing better defense, and is better acquainted with Ridgewood's structured offense and defense.

But talent alone isn't enough. And Reed knows it.

"I need to get bigger (and I need to improve) my strength," he said, "and I need better footwork and coordination and I need to work on my post moves."

Reed has already grown after a breakout sophomore season, but it is the little things on the court that Anders wants the junior to master.

"Those are the (mistakes) that people don't see, but he'll grow out of it," Anders said. "I think he's a lot smoother, he's a lot more under control in his moves.

"But he's still in a learning stage. It's not automatic yet. It's not reactionary yet. But his athleticism is much more developed."

Reed would also like to get "meaner," or more aggressive on offense and defense. But it won't happen overnight.

"I believe that aggressiveness comes with confidence," Anders said, "and confidence comes with more and more experience.

"Would I like to go see him tear it up every night? Sure I would. But I also realize it's a process. It's going to happen when it's supposed to happen."

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