Reid Travis is unlike any other player John Calipari has had at Kentucky.
He’s Stanford educated, old enough to order a beer, and enters his first season as a Wildcat having already played almost 3,000 minutes of college basketball in his career.
Yet, he’s still a one-and-done prospect under Calipari.
The soon-to-be-23-year-old Travis transferred into the Kentucky program from Stanford, where he was a two-time First Team All-Pac 12 selection, and ranks 16th on Stanford’s all-time career scoring list. He was with the Cardinal for four seasons, but a knee injury early in his sophomore year kept him sidelined for most of that season. He would return in 2016-17 to average 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a redshirt sophomore, followed by a sensational redshirt junior season with almost 20 points and nine rebounds per game. Today, he is one of three Stanford players to have at least 1,400 points and 700 rebounds in less than 100 games played in the program’s history.
But once last season ended, Travis knew he had a decision to make.
“Going back to when the season ended, we lost in the NIT, I took two weeks off basically and I sat down and just really figured out, okay, what do I want to do this spring and what do I want to accomplish,” he explained to KSR. “I knew that I had a fifth-year eligibility if I wanted to take that, I knew that I had a chance to get invited by some teams and do some pre-draft workouts and look at the NBA, so I decided to go all-in on the NBA and do pre-draft workouts.”
Travis had workouts in Brooklyn, Cleveland, Denver, Minnesota and Golden State. Meanwhile, he was still trying to complete his coursework at Stanford to earn a degree in science, technology and society.
“It was a lot going on,” he said of his spring schedule. “I stayed on campus and did all of my workouts while I was finishing my degree.”
Soon after his last workout, he and his family decided it was in his best interest to return to college for a fifth year of basketball. But he was still immersed in his studies at Stanford, so he relied on his family to lay out the best options for where he would play that fifth year of basketball.
“Do I stay at Stanford? Do I go to another school? What puts me in the best situation,” he wondered. “I really started to sit down and think about that, all the while I was still trying to finish my degree, which was taking literally a lot of hours out of my day. I put a lot of faith in my family and they did a lot of the research for me as far as talking to schools, doing their own research and trying to figure out what would be the best fit for me.”
A lot of the school-searching fell on his family members, but Travis knew what he wanted out of the next year.
“The biggest thing is I wanted to get better as a player, which is an easy thing to say,” he said. “I mean every year I want to get better as a player, but I want to be pushed on a different level and be pushed in a different way and be made uncomfortable in ways I hadn’t been before, and I think that’s what steered me to a new situation. I want to compete for a national championship and I want to put myself in the best position for the draft the following year, and those were kind of the biggest things that I was looking at.”
He considered several schools, including a return to Stanford, but one stood out above the rest.
“When that came down to it and I started looking at places, there was no better spot than coming to Kentucky to try to do those things,” he said.
Travis visited Lexington days after his Stanford graduation, and he claims he was too busy with schoolwork to do much thinking before his arrival. His family had narrowed his list while he finished school, and Kentucky was one of the most serious options for a decision that had to be made in only a matter of weeks. But once he took the visit, it did not take long to know Lexington would be his next home. He announced he was transferring to Kentucky while on his visit, three days after he walked across the stage to receive his Stanford diploma.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me with this process of taking the next step to pursue my dreams. I couldn’t be more excited for the future! pic.twitter.com/xIwtBfFzLr
— Reid Travis (@2ReidTravis2) June 20, 2018
Now that he’s at Kentucky, Travis is enjoying his time as a Wildcat, but his day-to-day routine is unique compared to that of his teammates.
“I’m in the sports leadership program,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a little different experience than I had at Stanford or what most of my teammates are going through, because I’m going to night classes where I’m the youngest person in the class and everyone’s pretty old in there… so I don’t know if I’m truly living the student-athlete experience right now, but I’ve been enjoying it.”
He also has different interests than his younger teammates. They like video games, namely Fortnite. He does not even touch video games, he says.
PJ Washington, his roommate, told KSR, “All he does is talk to his family, that’s all I hear. He’s on the phone with his family or he’s in there watching TV or in the gym. That’s pretty much all he does.”
“He’s definitely the old-head around here. The young guys kind of mess with him a little bit and he doesn’t laugh about it at all. He’s always serious. He doesn’t play no video games with us. I don’t even think he owns a system.”
Travis doesn’t see a problem with the age gap, though.
“As far as talking to each other and things like that, I wouldn’t say that it’s every interaction that I have that I feel that much older,” he said.
On the court, he and the other Wildcats are pushing themselves to new levels and starving for a championship.
It’s why he’s here.
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series: