Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy told Portsmouth Invitational Tournament officials they were nuts for not inviting Cameron Reynolds to their NBA prospects camp last spring.
He received his validation when the Minnesota Timberwolves signed Reynolds to a 10-day contract on Tuesday, joining Melvin Frazier of the Orlando Magic as the second NBA player from Tulane’s 2017-18 roster.
Yet, Reynolds was not seen as one of the top 64 seniors in college basketball by the Portsmouth organizers, who limit their camp to seniors only.
“That was the biggest joke ever,” Dunleavy said. “I called those guys up and said there’s absolutely no way there are 64 seniors in the country better than Cam Reynolds. I’m telling you it is the absolutely worst decision you ever made.”
Reynolds, who went undrafted, averaged 16.0 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Stockton Kings in the G League this season while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and 41.9 percent on 3-point attempts. He has been even hotter recently, averaging 21.3 points and on 53-percent shooting overall and 51-percent shooting from behind the arc since mid-January.
“I talked to Cam last night and obviously he’s really excited about (the opportunity with the Timberwolves),” Dunleavy said Tuesday. “He’s totally deserving. I told him I was proud of the work he’s put in to develop his game and get his game going.”
After a breakout redshirt junior year under Dunleavy, Reynolds struggled with his shot last season, hitting 40.8 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from 3-point range as Tulane went 14-17 overall and 5-13 in the American Athletic Conference despite the presence of him and Frazier, who averaged a team-high 15.9 points en route to being drafted early in the second round.
With Frazier taking over a much bigger portion of the scoring, Reynolds’ average dipped to 15.1 points from 17.0 as a junior.
Frazier returned to New Orleans with Orlando for a game at the Smoothie King Center two weeks ago, but fans will not get the same opportunity to see Reynolds. The Pelicans and Timberwolves already have finished playing each other this season.
Looking for answers
After losing a heartbreaker to East Carolina on Saturday, Tulane (4-22, 0-14 AAC) will have a tough task earning its first conference victory in a road trip to Tulsa (16-12, 6-9) and Temple (20-8, 10-5) this week.
Tulsa, which entertains the Wave on Thursday night at 6 p.m., won 80-57 in New Orleans on Valentine’s Day.
Temple, which hosts the Wave on Sunday at 1 p.m., won 75-67 in New Orleans on Feb. 2 and cannot afford to lose as it chases an NCAA tournament berth.
To have any shot at an upset, Tulane needs to make more shots. It is a team-wide issue, but senior guard Jordan Cornish has gone particularly cold, going 2 of 21 in his last three games and 17 of 71(23.9 percent) in his last seven.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “You know that old saying, shooters shoot. Eventually you know when you see that one or two go in the rim, you are going to break that streak.”
Connor Crabtree, who had not made then four shots in an AAC game and had scored in double figures in only two of them, exploded for a season-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting against East Carolina.
Dunleavy said the only thing his freshman guard did differently in that game was heed what teammates and coaches had been telling him all year.
“He shot the shots that had been available in games,” he said. “I was glad to see him be a little bit aggressive, and that set up his opportunities to drive and attack the basket as well.”
Crabtree averages 6.5 points and 4.8 shots but had one of his best games in Tulane’s first meeting with Tulsa, making 3 of 5 shots from the floor and all four of his free throws.