The lone senior on Utah State's basketball team couldn't hide his grin Friday night after the team's first fall practice.
Kyisean Reed has the confidence of a new man. And if his coaches are to be believed, he has the game of a new man as well. If Reed can live up to the standard he's set during the offseason, the 6-foot-6 forward could be in for a big year for the Aggies.
"I feel like I know what I'm doing," Reed says. "It know where to be, so there's less wasted energy and stuff like that."
Coming in last season from Antelope Valley (Calif.) Junior College, Reed made the all-WAC newcomer team while showing his skills as an explosive athlete and shotblocker. But what drove his coaches batty was his unpredictable ups and downs.
Coach Stew Morrill has referred to it as the tale of two Kyiseans: The one who demoralized opponents with dunks and swatted shots, and the one who seemed invisible for minutes at a time.
After a conversation with the coaching staff after the season, Reed took the advice to heart. Although the team has yet to see how the forward rises to the challenge in games, it's clear the senior has focused in on being consistent.
"We have 'New Kyisean' now," Morrill says. "Sometimes Old Kyisean will rear his ugly head, that's how I refer to it. But he's been mostly New Kyisean in his attitude, in his effort. It's his last year, and he's our only senior. He has got to give us a lift."
Reed's biggest asset might just be that: lift. One of his signature stretches last season came against Mercer in the College Insider Tournament, when he delivered rim-rocking dunks on three straight possessions.
The team is optimistic that the big men on the roster Jarred Shaw, Matt Lopez and Jordan Stone can free up Reed in other places, allowing him to make those kinds of plays more often.
"We've gotten bigger, and it allows me to move around a lot more like I like to," Reed says. "We've got a lot of raw talent. We're going to figure it out."
Berger, Butterfield shooting well
Preston Medlin helped float up Utah State's three-point shooting percentage last season, accounting for 45 percent of outside shots. This year, Morrill expects more contributors.
Where will that come from? The coaching staff is looking to Danny Berger, the perimeter-oriented forward, to step up after being outmuscled last year. He's hoping to bump up that 37 percent figure.
"He was pulled off a redshirt year and was too skinny," Morrill says. "He's gonna shoot for a better percentage because he's a better shooter."
But he won't be the only wing the Aggies can turn to: Transfer Spencer Butterfield shot a blistering 47.6 percent at Yuba (Calif.) Community College, while fellow newcomer Marvin Jean hovered near 41 percent at Sullican (N.Y.) Community College. Returner Ben Clifford showed the occasional ability to step out for the long ball last season.
In all, Morrill says he's feeling more comfortable about his team's outside ability.
"Spencer and Danny, we can play them together," he says. "We have the potential to be a really good three-point shooting team."