Ames, Iowa Kansas University freshman guard Tyrel Reed played 99 varsity basketball games for Burlington High. He lost four games.
"Pretty much devastated," he said of how he felt after each of those four losses. "You never expect you're going to lose. It was tough. I wasn't used to losing. I don't think anyone was."
The fact he used the word "devastated" to describe a loss suggests he just might be what this team in a funk needs at the moment in the way of urgency.
Limited to 21 minutes in Big 12 games, Reed has a chance at significant playing time tonight against Iowa State for all the wrong reasons. Rodrick Stewart is in Seattle, attending his brother's funeral. Sherron Collins, battling a painful knee bruise, is considered probable.
Reed's possible chance comes two days after Kansas received a commitment from another point guard, 6-foot-3 Tyrone Appleton of Midland (Texas) Community College. Looking to the future, Reed's fight for a spot in the playing rotation is getting crowded. Wisely, Reed does his best to keep his mind from straying too far forward.
"I'm more focused on this season right now, wanting to get better," Reed said. "We have a great opportunity to be great this year, and hopefully, we can fulfill what we expect of ourselves. Next year, I mean, that's next year. I guess I'll think about that more when it comes."
It must be more difficult than it sounds, given that he will be a sophomore and Sherron Collins and Appleton will be juniors, Mario Chalmers a senior.
"It's hard not to think about next year, but in the whole scheme of things, this year's way more important than next year right now," Reed said. "You've got to live in the moment. I know we've got some great recruits coming in, and I look forward to still being here."
Desire and an efficient approach to the game are not the issues with Reed. Quickness and experience against big-time competition have been his biggest hurdles, as well as nagging ankle injuries he said he has recovered from completely.
It's all new to him, even playing with a big man, something he said he never did in high school.
His biggest adjustment?
"I'd say defensively, playing against great guards every game, the speed of it and the physicality," said Reed, who gets his best training going against teammates Collins, Chalmers and Russell Robinson. "I know I have to get a lot better at that. That's something I'm going to be working on this year and throughout the summer."
Offensively, he has posted positive statistics, shooting .458 on three-pointers, and totaling 17 assists and just three turnovers.
Reed's biggest contribution in a Big 12 game came in Allen Fieldhouse against Colorado when he scored six points in eight minutes, hitting a pair of three-pointers. In the next game, against a more athletic Oklahoma State team, Reed did not get off the bench. If he's frustrated over a lack of playing time, he hides it well.
"I've known that Kansas is a much bigger thing than one person," Reed said. "That's how I've always felt growing up. I've just loved Kansas basketball. I didn't care if I was the main player or anything like that, and I don't think anyone feels like that on our team. We're just going to play as a unit and represent Kansas on the front of our uniforms."