Reid Travis is a grown man. There is no way of getting around it. The combination of his strength and athleticism is something we have not seen at Kentucky in quite some time.
Travis not only led Kentucky in rebounding in the Bahamas, but he had twice as many overall as anyone on the team outside of PJ Washington. He was also the only Wildcat to average a double-double with 12 points to go with his 10.3 rebounds per game.
Reid Travis being a man down low. pic.twitter.com/H2J3We0hlT— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 9, 2018
Travis showed glimpses of exactly what Big Blue Nation expected from him. He made shots in the pain, drained a couple of three-pointers, and was incredible in defending the paint.
Dude tries and fails to move Reid Travis and then Nick Richards swats his shot with two hands. pic.twitter.com/KNt6Zj7qBe— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 12, 2018
However, he surprised some of us with some obvious flaws that jumped off of the screen. In leading the team with 44 shot attempts, he only made an abysmal 34% of his shots.
He also looked vulnerable with the ball in his hands from time to time by getting stripped in the post and not making the most of his positioning.
Travis is quickly finding out that bully ball is not what John Calipari wants to see from him.
“You’ve got to get quicker to the basket, runners, some little seven-foot shots — not jump shots, just get it to the rim quickly,” Calipari said of Travis in his post-Bahamas press conference. “It’s thrown to you, the first thought is to get it to the backboard. And we’ve got to work with him. We have not worked with him. We’ve done nothing with him. But we will when we get back.”
At Stanford, Travis relied on his strength to get buckets and defend. It worked out pretty well for him there.
Reid Travis (@2ReidTravis2) gets the rebound and throws down a one handed dunk pic.twitter.com/wOkCRcLTZX— Classic KY (@KY_Clips) June 20, 2018
But Calipari has been clear since Travis arrived on campus that, if he wants to go to the next level, he has to adapt.
“It isn’t going to work anymore,” Calipari said. “Not only here but if you want to be professional, that will not work. And he knows it.”
Travis is wildly athletic. But playing in the Pac-12, being bigger and stronger than everyone else makes it easier to get comfortable in relying on your size to make a difference.
There were glimpses of Travis using his speed and athleticism at Stanford, and Calipari wants him to be more of that guy during his time at Kentucky.
What do the analytics say about new Wildcat big man Reid Travis?— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) July 25, 2018
He likes to go left more often than not. Also, one reason he's so hard to stop is he scores at least 10-percent of his points off spot ups, cuts, post ups, in transition and off offensive rebounds. pic.twitter.com/4noduZLCGP
“This kid’s a grown man,” Calipari said. “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.”
If Reid Travis showed up on November 6th as the same player we saw in the Bahamas, he would have a huge impact and play a major role on this team.
But if he is able to make the adjustments that Calipari is suggesting, he could become an All-American type player that leads this team to a deep run in March.
He may also end up hearing his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft.