Newark, N.J. — He didn’t envision this. Not even close. A walk-on as of just five months ago, Shavar Reynolds Jr. is turning into a Seton Hall folk hero after his game-winning three to propel the Hall past St. John’s in a 76-74 thriller to kick off Big East play.
After Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard flipped Reynolds Jr. (8 pts, 3 rebs) from walk-on to a full scholarship in August, most thought it was a feel-good move that wouldn’t amount to much.
That theory was debunked in the Manchester (N.J.) native’s first game when he proved he “wasn’t a charity case” in a win over Wagner.
But Willard and certainly not Shavar, had this sort of fairy tale in mind.
“Honestly, no. I thought I’d play my role, but for this to happen, this just caps off all the hard work in the gym for years and years,” said Reynolds Jr. when asked if he envisioned something like this.
“It’s so surreal.”
Minutes after he was mobbed on the court by teammates after a celebration he credited to former teammate Desi Rodriguez, Reynolds Jr. was swamped by reporters and teammates alike post-game, with Myles Powell calling him the “superstar of the game”.
The whole scene was like something from a movie. And while his cold-blooded three was incredible, Reynolds Jr.’s ability to speak from the heart yielded what would usually be thought of as platitudes.
But not tonight. The surreal became the real.
“I’m still in shock. I don’t think I’ve realized what just happened to be honest.”
Eh, maybe not yet for Shavar. He might have to sleep on this a few nights — if he can put a damper on the mile-high adrenaline rush.
The shot came after a controversial inbounds play in the corner in which the official ruling from the Big East is that the officials were reviewing a timing error for the game clock, not the actual inbounds play.
Chris Mullin refused to comment, but the frantic finish to a game in which St. John’s led for 38 minutes and by as much as 14, couldn’t have been more off-script.
Case in point, I only had a bullet point of “Shavar Reynolds impact” written in my game notes before the final sequence.
Little did I know.
“We felt they were going to go to (Myles) Powell (on the last shot),” said Mullin. “But that kid made a hell of a shot.”
Even the man of the hour didn’t know what was to come on the next possession after a lengthy review at the monitor.
“No, not at all. I knew there was a chance, Coach said if they helped, ‘Shavar is there to knock it down’, so I knew there was a chance, but I honestly didn’t know.”
That lengthy review at the monitor? That’s how long it felt for Shavar after he released the shot.
Put yourself in your favorite iconic sports movie. Where time slows and every second takes five.
That was tonight for a Jersey-native who saw 24 minutes of mop-up time a season ago and had hit just two three-pointers in his college career before he released the most memorable shot of his life.
“When you’re in a moment (like that), it feels like forever. When I seen it go up, it looked good. Then it dropped, my first thing was- I seen Desi (Rodriguez) do it last year, he ran down (the court) like this, I was like I’ve got to do that.”
“It’s really gratifying,” said Kevin Willard of his emotions toward the young man he has had confidence in since August and prior.
“Every high school kid should understand if you work really hard, have a good attitude, and you’re a good person, good things will happen to you. That’s Shavar Reynolds.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a 4.0 student, and good things are happening to him because of his hard work.”
“To see something like this happen, it’s great to see success unfold for him, it’s just great,” added Quincy McKnight.
“We’ve seen him put in so much work, after games where he doesn’t play, we’ve seen him go to the gym when we’re just all in our rooms bodies aching from practicing all week and playing a game, and Shavar is just in the gym shooting, putting shots up, being game ready.”
Doing things the right way: a blue collar work ethic and not being handed anything is how Shavar Reynolds Jr. got to this point.
Hell, he wouldn’t of even been on this team due to not being able to afford tuition before Willard put him on scholarship.
Can’t make that up. Who knows where this movie script may lead.
“It’s been a long journey. All the hard work, all the hours in the gym, that just proves that it’s all worth it,” said the stunned hero of what is turning into a wildly unpredictable Seton Hall season.
There are quite a few feel good stories about athletes who climb from the last seat on the bench to playing a major role for their team.
Add Shavar Reynolds Jr. to the list.