He emerged quietly from AAA high school basketball in Winnipeg, but four years later Jordan Reaves is making some noise on the university court.
The fourth-year guard/forward with the Brandon University Bobcats led all players with 22 points and 12 rebounds Friday in a 75-72 loss to North Dakota's Dickinson State Bluehawks in the opening round of the 46th annual Wesmen Classic at the Duckworth Centre.
"I was happy I got to play at Shaftesbury. There was a chance for me to play point guard and guard, and work on my handles and shooting game," said the 6-foot-6 Reaves, who was recruited by former Bobcats coach Keith Vassell.
"Keith Vassell was an amazing recruiter. He'd drive out three times a week just to meet with me. I figured if he was going to spend that much time in trying to help me get better, (Brandon) was the place for me," Reaves said. "I love the atmosphere, the guys around me and my coach now, Gil (Cheung). We've bonded into a real family."
Reaves was in the same 2009 recruiting class as AAAA stars like Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and Brayden Duff of Garden City Collegiate, Chad Posthumus of River East Collegiate and Pawel Gacon of St. Paul's High School. One coach at the time called it the best group of graduating hoops players in Manitoba in a decade. Reaves was an all-star as well but was overshadowed because he was playing at a AAA school.
Reaves quietly went off to Brandon where he has developed into the team's most versatile player, working in at shooting guard, forward and even posting up when necessary. This season Cheung named him team captain.
"It's a great honour. One of my best qualities that I've been able to develop in Brandon is my leadership skills and I do my best to lead the guys," said Reaves.
He was a starting freshman for the Bobcats in the 2009-2010 season, taking advantage of an opportunity not available to many at the CIS level.
"I have come so far, words can't express it," he said. "My first year I wasn't a great shooter and Keith worked with me on that. Then Gil came out and saw my potential as a shooter and started using me more in that role. Every year I seem to pick up another thing."
After next season, when he'll play his fifth and final year with Brandon and earn his degree in computer science, Reaves plans to look for an opportunity to play professionally in Europe.
There's football and hockey in Jordan's family background. He is the son of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Willard Reaves and the younger brother of NHLer Ryan Reaves, currently playing with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. Jordan had played both football (running back) and hockey (forward) as a youngster but chose basketball when he was 14.
The Bobcats are off to a painfully slow 2-8 start to this season, playing without injured veterans Emerick Ravier and Isaiah James.
"We did not expect to go 2-8 out of gate but I see good things coming out of (Friday's) game," Jordan said. "Even though we lost, I liked the way we're meshing together."
The host Winnipeg Wesmen won their tournament opener Friday with an 88-41 win over the Keyano College Huskies of Fort McMurray, Alta.
"The first one is always pressure-packed and our guys did a good job in front of a pretty big crowd," said head coach Mike Raimbault. "We showed some rust from the time off, but we're fortunate that we have relatively strong depth."
The Wesmen will play in tonight's first semifinal at 6:30 p.m. against the Mount Royal Cougars. The other semi at 8:30 p.m. will see the Lakehead Thunderwolves battling Dickinson State.