Reese remains dedicated to the Griffs

Reese-5

Isaiah Reese is looking to have a stellar junior year after trying out for three NBA teams over the summer. (Marshall Haim/The Griffin file photo)

By Mike Pesarchick

Copy Editor

Isaiah Reese is a humble guy.

Canisius’ blue-chip guard was recently named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Preseason Player of the Year after earning All-MAAC honors last year, the first sophomore to do so since Michael Meeks in 1994.

The Miami, Fla. native led the Griffs last season with 16.9 points per game, 83 three-pointers, 5.8 assists per game, 33.4 minutes per game and 2.2 steals per game. His 73 steals also led the entire MAAC.

He was one of only two players in the nation to net more than 125 rebounds and assists, and on Nov. 18 against Youngstown State, he made school history by recording Canisius’ first triple-double, racking up 23 points, 11 assists and 11 boards in a 104-84 victory.

He tested the NBA waters this past summer, earning workouts with the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and  Houston Rockets, before deciding to return to Canisius for his junior campaign.

Yet, despite all this, Reese has maintained that his legacy wearing the Blue and Gold won’t be forged by his achievements, but rather by a championship banner hanging on the walls of the Koessler Athletic Center.

“For him, I think the sky’s the limit,” head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “He’s a very talented young man.”

Witherspoon has plenty of reason to be proud of Reese – he was his first recruit to come to Canisius after leaving Alabama.

Impressed not only by the young man’s talent but also his intangibles at Miami Christian high school and DME Academy in Chattanooga, Fla., Witherspoon — backed by Canisius — made Reese an offer, which he accepted.

It was a big step in the young man’s life. He’d grown up on the baseball diamond, not the basketball court.

Reese’s father, Kenneth, encouraged him to make the switch to the hardwood and the young athlete started playing at a local YMCA center.

“He was a hooper, he wanted me to follow in his footsteps,” Isaiah Reese laughed.

From there, basketball was his sport.

Reese’s college career got off to a quiet start, making his first start on Dec. 4, 2016, against Monmouth. The then-freshman scored his first collegiate basket, with many more to come. By the end of the 2016-17 season, he was ranked second on the team in assists, averaging 2.8 per game, and his defensive skills were already on display as he came away with a team-best 46 steals.

His sophomore season was where he really began to shine. Reese scored a personal-record 31 points in a shootout 73-65 loss to St. Bonaventure on Dec. 6. His shooting percentage rose from .423 to .463 and was ranked No. 15 in the nation in steals, averaging 2.2 steals per game.

Reese’s stellar season led him to try out for some NBA teams, alongside teammate Takal Molson.

For Reese, the transition from high school to college basketball has been the easy part. The transition from Miami to Buffalo, though, has been a bit of a “culture shock.”

“Back home, it’s a diversity,” Reese said, “so coming to Canisius, it was different. Other guys like Malik [Johnson] went to prep school, so he’s used to this. I’ve never been.” Now that he’s established himself on the team (and gotten used to the Buffalo weather, he noted) things are more comfortable.

The next step, and potentially the most important step for the junior, is to fill the leadership role left in the wake of departed seniors such as Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius’ all-star forward who graduated last spring and was signed by T71  Dudelange in Luxembourg in September.

“We can’t get too many leaders on our team… that’s an area of growth that he

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