It’s no secret that former Stanford forward Reid Travis is the biggest name left on the college basketball transfer market – and it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that he might be one of the most coveted grad transfers in the history of the sport. After all, it’s not often that former McDonald’s All-American’s who earn All-Conference honors in a league like the Pac-12 make it to their senior years period, let alone decide to transfer following the season. That’s also why some of the biggest names in college basketball – most notably Kentucky and Villanova – are hoping to have the 6’8 forward on their rosters next year.
Still, despite being such a big name, the combination of injuries early in his career and playing at a low-profile Pac-12 school means that quite a few fans still don’t know much about him. That’s why KSR decided to reach out to those who do know him best – two Pac-12 assistant coaches who spent the last four years scouting and game-planning against him.
Because Travis is still a transfer in the middle of the recruiting process, neither could speak publicly about him, and agreed to these interviews on the condition of anonymity. But both coaches shared virtually the same sentiment when discussing the former first-team All-Pac 12 performer.
It was summed up succinctly by the first coach.
“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m glad he’s out of our league,” the first Pac-12 assistant said laughing.
I am told Reid Travis will visit Kentucky next week, likely on Tuesday
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) June 13, 2018
Both coaches remember Travis dating back to his days as a high school star, with one of the coaches saying he believed the Minnesota native was “the best power forward” in his high school class. And once Travis arrived in college he had an immediate impact, before a string of injuries kept him off the court for a big stretch of time.
“His freshman year in particular in the non-conference as we were watching him, he was amazing,” the second coach said. “He was aaaaaaaamazing. And he was somebody that we were majorly, majorly concerned about. But what was unfortunate is that he had all these injuries and he was never able to show what he could do [until recently].”
Sadly, that was the reality of Travis’ career arc at Stanford, and why he is even eligible to transfer right now, period: The poor kid simply couldn’t stay healthy for his first few years on campus. He missed nine games his freshman year with a stress fracture in his left leg, then played in just eight games total his sophomore year with a stress reaction in the same leg. That lost sophomore season also allowed him to apply for a medical redshirt, which gave him a fifth-year of eligibility he will use next season.
As the second coach pointed out, it wasn’t really until this past season that Travis was able to show what he was able to do when fully healthy. He played in every Stanford game for the first time in his career this winter, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds, playing some of his best games against the Cardinal’s best competition. That included 18 points and 11 rebounds in a win over UCLA, and 20 and 10 in a two-point loss to Arizona at home.
All the skills that Travis displayed as a high school standout finally came out for a college audience to see last year.
“His hands, his athleticism, the way that he attacked the basket, his relentless pursuit of rebounds,” the second coach said, when asked what makes Travis so special on the court.
Now the question becomes what’s next.
While neither coach is privy to Travis’ decision-making process, both understood his decision to pursue options outside of Stanford. The coaching staff which initially recruited Travis to Palo Alto was replaced following his sophomore year, and while the Cardinal are full of young talent (sophomores Daejon Davis and Kezie Okpala might have futures in the NBA) it still feels like they’re a ways away from competing with the elite in college basketball.
So after spending four years at Stanford and locking in a college degree from one of America’s most prestigious universities, why not try and play for one of the elite programs in the country?
“He’s been there a long time,” one coach said. “And you have to think that man, if you’re going to be in college that long and play at that level, and be that good of a player, why not try to win a national championship?”
“And he’s got a Stanford degree? He’s golden.”
Looking ahead, both coaches said that regardless of where Travis ends up, he still has things to work on. Each coach mentioned that he still favors going over his left shoulder in the post (playing predominately with his right hand) and needs to develop the other hand to reach his full potential. One coach added that to truly reach his NBA potential, Travis will need to work on his mid-range game too. A 17-foot jumper is a must.
Still, both coaches believe that wherever Travis ends up he’ll have an immediate impact. He isn’t simply a good player who put big numbers on a bad team. He’s a difference-maker wherever he lands next season.
“I think he can put up monster numbers wherever he goes,” the first coach said. “He’s a talent.”
The second coach agreed. While it’s uncertain whether Travis will choose Kentucky, Villanova or somewhere else, the coach is already having nightmares of what Travis could look like alongside another talented Kentucky team.
“They [Kentucky] have a bunch of young kids, but you throw Reid Travis in that group?” the coach said. “Oh my gosh. I just hope we don’t meet them until the Final Four.”