Life is all about taking advantage when an opportunity presents itself. It’s taken Holy Cross senior De’Vaughn Reid until the end of his career to finally get an opportunity make an impact on the court, and he’s seized every moment of it.
“It feels good having this opportunity. This is a big opportunity,” said Reid, a 6-foot senior walk-on from West Orange, New Jersey, who has become a regular member of the Crusaders rotation, bringing energy and defensive intensity off the bench, during the final month of his career.
“He’s been solid and taking care of his opportunity,” said Holy Cross head coach Milan Brown.
That opportunity came on Feb. 8. when sophomore point guard Anthony Thompson was shut down after fighting through a torn labrum all season long. Up until that point, Holy Cross was dead in the water, occupying a spot in the Patriot League basement at 4-8 in league play and 8-13 overall.
During that stretch, Reid had been a glorified spectator on most game nights, registering 14 “DNPs” through the Crusaders’ first 21 games. He had logged seven minutes in a 30-point win against Division III Nichols, his most action of the season. Before that, Reid had played in just 23 games in his entire previous three seasons on the Holy Cross roster.
But Reid never stopped showing up to practice and pushing his teammates.
“He’s a tremendously hard worker, always has been,” said senior star Justin Burrell.
“It’s been pretty much up and down,” said Reid of his career. “Sometimes you play, sometimes you don’t. It’s definitely been a great experience.”
Entering his senior season, with a stacked backcourt of athletic, scholarship players — among them Burrell, Thompson, Eric Green and Cullen Hamilton — Reid knew his minutes would be slim to none, and embraced his role running the scout team to pushing the starters in practice and keeping spirits up on the bench and in the locker room.
“Mainly that we have a great team and when we gel and are locked in we’re a pretty good team and I felt we could go a long way,” said Reid about his approach to the season. “I’m definitely the kind that tries to keep everybody loose.”
But as the losses mounted, and the pain Thompson was playing through became unbearable, Brown began to look down the bench for a spark to save the season, and eventual found it in Reid. Brown and Reid spoke, and the message was clear.
“Pretty much, just be ready to go,” Reid said. “They all have faith in me. [Brown] told me I’m a pretty good player, and just play your game and you’ll be fine.”
“It’s the next man up mentality,” said Brown, “and it helps that he’s a senior though because in basketball terms he’s a grown-man, so we think he can definitely provide a spark for us.”
Reid’s most recent effort, a 10-minute contribution of all-out defensive energy, helped Holy Cross beat Loyola Md., 62-45, Tuesday in a Patriot League Tournament first round game.
Including Tuesday night, Reid has played in all seven games since Thompson was shelved for the season, starting Feb. 11, and the Crusaders have gone 5-2 during that stretch.
“My team and my coaches feel like I’m ready for it,” he said, “and I feel ready for it, so we’re just trying to keep this thing going.”
Reid has only scored 10 points during that stretch. He logged a season-high 17 minutes, to go with two points, two assists and two rebounds in the Crusaders’ 77-70 road victory over Boston University in the regular season finale. But according to Brown, the impact the senior has made in intangibles and sheer desire on the court are far larger than any statistics he produces.
“He did [make a big impact] tonight, and he absolutely did it the last time we played, at BU,” said Brown following Tuesday’s win.
Despite his increased role on the court, Reid’s role as a leader in the locker room has never changed.
“Everybody is so serious, especially now in the playoffs,” he said. “I’m the funny guy every now and then but also when we get on the court being a point guard, you have to be the enforcer, so a little bit of both.”
Eight-seed Holy Cross will try to keep their season alive when they face off against Patriot League regular season champion Bucknell tonight, and in one way or another, Reid will play an integral role keeping Holy Cross’ long-shot title hopes alive.
“De’Vaughn has been big, he’s been ready to play,” said Brown, adding, “We have lots of confidence in De’Vaughn. He’s a walk-on for us, but he’s a Division-I scholarship player that we got lucky to have as a walk-on, to tell you the truth.”