By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It’s a long way from Tazewell, Va., to Yokohoma, Japan. To be more exact, it’s 6,713 miles from the Southwest Virginia town to the coastal city on the Pacific Ocean and a long way from home for Omar Reed.
Yokohama Reed’s current domicile. He is currently a member of the Yokohoma B-Corsairs, a professional basketball team in the Japanese pro basketball league. A graduate of Tazewell High School and Bluefield College, the 6’7 Reed, according to the team’s website, is a projected starter when the team opens its season Oct. 12. He told how he ended up playing in Japan.
“A Japanese agent contacted me after watching me play in the NBA Development League and said, ‘I really think you could thrive and do great in Japan with your style of play.’ He talked about the salary he could possibly get me and began to market me to teams,” Reed said.
“A few were interested and one of them, Yokohama, was in Las Vegas in July and I was out there for a South Korean tryout. The coach and GM attended my tryout, were impressed and said they wanted to sign me. I told them I was considering other options. A team in Brazil was offering me more money. Weeks later the Brazil situation fell through and the Japanese team still wanted me, so it worked out. Now I’m here.”
Reed spent two years playing in the NBA Development League, one season with the Austin Toros, affiliated with the San Antonio Spurs, and the second with the Maine Red Claws of the Boston Celtics. He called that period two of the greatest years of his life.
“Last year I was with the Maine Red Claws. That team was filled with talent, Shelvin Mack of Butler, now with the Atlanta Hawks, Dajuan Summers from Georgetown, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph from Syracuse, Micah Downs of Gonzaga and here is this country kid, Omar Reed from Bluefield College with all these big names,” Reed commented. “All the guys respected me from day one and saw my ability. That made me feel even more confident and let me know I belonged. The NBA D-League raised my confidence tremendously.”
This past summer Reed had the opportunity to take a step in fulfilling a dream.
“My ultimate goal is to make an NBA roster, whether it be for one week, or one year, it doesn’t matter to me. That’s the goal,” Reed said. “I had a sense of NBA life this summer as I got to play for the Boston Celtics’ summer league squad.
“I was on the team with guys trying to make an impact and get invited to training camp, and some who were already a part of the Celtics’ team. HAving on the Celtics logo was a privilege. Having (Celtics GM) Danny Ainge and (head coach) Brad Stevens and other NBA teams in attendance for a week t observe kept the excitement there. That week was a very rewarding feeling.”
Reed caught the eye of the Celtics but it came a little too late. Two days after he signed to play in Japan a representive from Boston contacted him and said the team was considering inviting him to training camp.
“He was up-front with me and said, ‘Naturally we are not thinking you will be given much look into really making the team, bu we would assign you to the D-League team afterward,’” Reed said.
“I didn’t care if they cut me, I wanted to go! To be able to say I’m in training camp with the Boston Celtics, the last ‘BC’ I was with was Bluefield College! It would have been great, but I couldn’t get out of the contract I just signed,” Reed related. “The Celtics’ rep encouraged me to go, make money instead of staying there to go to the D-League where they don’t pay as well. I was told to stay in touch and maybe next year I can get another try.”
The season has just started in Japan and Reed is one of three Americans on the roster, the others are Marquise Gray who played at Michigan State and Wayne Marshall from Temple.
A 2005 graduate from Tazewell High, Reed did not even plan to play hoops at Bluefield College. Tommy Brown had just left BC to coach at Lee University in Tennessee and Reed decided that basketball may not be the route he wanted to go.
“When Tommy Brown left BC I never got in contact with the new coach and I did my studies,” Reed said. “I built a buzz around campus for being pretty good at open gym and Jason Gillespie and Steve Hardin brought me onto the team. I began starting halfway through my freshman season and started the rest of my career.”
The son of Wanda Muse of Princeton and Omar Reed of Tazewell, Reed graduated BC in May 2010 with a degree in business administration with a concentration in business management. He now makes his home in Houston, Texas, in the offseason, but plans on visiting his hometown in the summer of 2014. He talked about being so far from home.
“What I miss most about the U.S. is loved ones and family,” Reed said. “It gets tough when you are chasing your goals and dreams because that means the people that care about you may have to take the backseat while you’re gone trying to make something of yourself. That gets tough, missing birthdays and special events. We know that it’s part of my career, but it’s never easy.”
— Contact Bob Redd at email@example.com