After three up-and-down performances to open his Kentucky career, Stanford transfer Reid Travis finally had a breakthrough performance in the Bahamas.
He led the team with 19 points and 15 rebounds, showing off a little bit of everything in Kentucky’s 93-60 victory over Team Toronto. Travis knocked down two three-point jumpers, finished several buckets inside with gorgeous footwork, grabbed rebounds like a grown man, and even sent one opponent’s shot flying several feet from the basket.
For Travis, he understands it was a rough start, but his performance in the game-four victory was a step in the right direction.
“Oh, it felt good,” Travis said of his double-double. “It’s definitely nothing I’m sweating too much. I know those are a lot of plays I can make. I just missed some easy ones that I usually put in. It’s expected, especially playing summer basketball, trying to get used to a new team, competition, stuff like that. So it did feel good to cap the trip off, getting some more looks to go in.”
Part of it comes with trying to develop his game beyond pure bully-ball. He wants to show the NBA he can be versatile.
“Individually, I’m trying to change the way I play. Being more athletic, a lot quicker, running up and down the court faster. Subtle changes that seem like quick adjustments for normal fans, but for me, it’s a big transition from how I’ve played my whole career as far as playing a bully-ball system. (I usually) put the ball down, go into peoples’ chests. Now they’re asking me to go up, catch lobs, block shots, and run up and down the court as fast as I can. I’ve only been on campus for a month, so it was great to come down here and see where I was in the process, understanding it’s still really early on,” he said.
Calipari is excited Travis broke through, though he’s going to have to break some old habits if he really wants to find success at the next level.
“I like the fact that Reid [Travis] kind of busted through today because he struggled, but he’s still — he and I just talked and I said, your habit right now is to gather yourself. It isn’t going to work anymore. Not only here but if you want to be professional, that will not work. And he knows it. He says, ‘you read my mind.’ I said, anytime there’s any kind of pressure, you’re going to revert to what you know best. And that’s what he knows best right now because we haven’t coached him. So I said, we’re going to get you to where you’re getting balls to the rim quicker, you’re shooting some runners and then go rebound your miss and you’re not going to gather yourself down and bust your way through. There are games he can do that, but not against the good teams.”
As far as what he likes from Travis as a player, Calipari says the Wildcats got a physical freak of nature, but he needs to work on his athleticism.
“He’s the man… This kid’s a grown man. He’s not 18, 19. He’s a grown man. He’s lost about 20 lbs. Probably needs to lose another four or five. Defends, bouncy. How about he blocked a shot? I’m telling you, I watched all of his games. I don’t think he had a blocked shot last year. You’ve got to go show it. You’ve got to show your quickness, your athleticism. He has it but he’s never used it. It’s been more bully-ball.”
It was a step in the right direction, but Travis knows there’s still work to do. When he can work those kinks out, watch out.
“It’s going to be night and day when I get it to click,” Travis said.