To know what kind of job Naz Reid has done for the LSU basketball team this season, all you have to do is go back to one game in particular.
It was the Tennessee game Feb. 23, and Reid and the Tigers were trying to knock off the nation’s fifth-ranked team, which, five days earlier, had completed a four-week stint at the top of the Associated Press rankings.
Reid was suffering through the worst game of his college career on offense that day, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t play defense.
All-Southeastern Conference guard Admiral Schofield was torching LSU for 25 points, having hit 10 of 17 shots with 3:33 still to play in regulation. Reid went to assistant coach Greg Heiar during a timeout with a request.
Well, it was more of a demand: Reid wanted Schofield.
“Naz wasn’t having his best offensive game, but he came up and said, ‘I got Schofield,’ ” Heiar said. “Schofield was having a tremendous game, but Naz goes out there and guards him the rest of the game and does a tremendous job on him.”
After punching their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen Saturday morning, the LSU Tigers now know who they will face next weekend in the NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Reid, who missed all nine of his field-goal attempts and finished with one point that afternoon, took out his frustrations on Schofield.
Schofield missed his final two shots in regulation, then missed twice more in overtime. His last basket of the day gave Tennessee a 75-73 lead before LSU pulled out an 82-80 win.
“He’s a big reason we won the game,” Heiar said, recalling how Reid was the unsung hero that day. “Naz is a winner. Every team he's been on, he has been a winner. He’s going to do what it takes to win, and that's why he's a special player.”
Doing the dirty work is Reid’s specialty.
Taking charges, making deflections, altering shots — things that don’t show up in the box score — mean a lot to a player who's a projected first-round NBA draft pick this summer.
Now-suspended coach Will Wade, who played up Reid’s abilities despite a slow start last fall, talked more about the five charges Reid took in a 94-86 overtime win at Arkansas in early January than the 27 points he scored that night.
Naz Reid lit up Twitter and ignited the LSU bench by slamming down a massive dunk in the first half of the Tigers' opening game of the NCAA To…
Wade also took care to note Reid’s disappointment when LSU lost in overtime to Florida on the Tigers’ home floor in late February.
“He always takes (losses) hard … he’s a competitor,” Wade said then. “He was all over the place … he wants to win. He takes all of them tough.
“I did not see anything different from him than I see after any game. He’s hard on himself after we win. That’s just the way he is; that’s what makes him a very good elite player.”
Reid showed it after a closer-than-expected four-point win at Georgia, beating himself up for going scoreless in the first half even though he had 13 second-half points that helped the Tigers hold off the Bulldogs.
Two days later, Reid admitted he wasn’t helping the team in the first half and needed the second-half effort he had.
“It was something the team needed,” he said. “Sometimes, I have to just stay focused … that plays a big part for me. Everybody has frustrating moments, so I have to be able to keep my composure and play the next play.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — LSU went into its NCAA first-round game against Yale 9-0 this season when forward Kavell Bigby-Williams posted a double-double.
He’s done that more often than not, especially since Southeastern Conference play began in early January.
In conference, Reid was second on the team in scoring (13.9) while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the free-throw line. He was also second in rebounding (7.8).
Reid has also been a force on the blocks, teaming with 6-11 forward Kavell Bigby-Williams to form a solid duo after playing out on the perimeter early in the season when he knocked down several crowd-pleasing, high-arcing 3-point shots.
Then there's his defense.
Reid takes great pride in taking charges and giving up his body for the team.
"That's something I've been doing since my freshman year (of high school)," he said. "If it's the winning play or something like that, I just need to take it.
"I mean, if I'm position, why not? I know it puts your body on the line, but if the team needs it ... why not?"
All of which will likely make Reid, who regularly declines to get out of drills in practice for a rest, the first one-and-done player for the Tigers since Ben Simmons in 2016.
After being projected as a lottery pick last summer, NBAdraft.net had Reid going 19th in its mock draft Tuesday.
Which had Heiar scratching his head.
“Everybody, for whatever reason, has their question marks about Naz,” he said. “ ‘Does he work hard? Does he play hard?’ He doesn’t want to leave drills, he’s a winner, he does everything you want. I don’t think they really know who he really is.
“He’s a wonderful young man. He's a hard-working young man. He’s where he's supposed (to be) when he’s supposed to be. He loves the game of basketball; he loves his teammates. Naz is like a coach on the floor with skills. He’s only going to get better and better because he works at it.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the LSU coaching staff is expecting to lose Reid to the pros.
“If you’re a top-20 pick in the draft, you need to go,” Heiar said. “That’s what his dream is and we want him to chase his dream. You never want to hold a young man back.”