Knoxville, TN – In this week’s @LadyVol_Hoops Report, assistant coach Jolette Law and freshman guard Jordan Reynolds answered questions from the media assembled in Pratt Pavilion before practice on Tuesday afternoon.
Law, in her second year on Holly Warlick’s staff, likes what she’s seeing out of Reynolds as well as veteran point guard Ariel Massengale and redshirt freshman Andraya Carter. Combined with senior Meighan Simmons, the 2013 SEC Co-Player of the Year and a third-team Associated Press All-American, Tennessee’s guard rotation should be among the best in the country.
Speaking specifically about point guards, Law is pleased with the flexibility she sees with Massengale, Carter and Reynolds on the roster this season.
Jordan Reynolds Lady Vols(UT Sports Information)
“AIRESS” OF BASKETBALL HELPING LEAD LADY VOLS
Jordan Airess Reynolds has been around basketball since she was born. Her mother played NCAA Division I basketball at San Diego State, and her aunt played college basketball at Oregon. Her sister, Ariel, currently plays at the University of Utah.
Reynolds’ nickname is Kobe (her Twitter handle is @kobeerenolds), but she is named after Michael Jordan; Air Jordan is Jordan Airess.
Reynolds arrived on Rocky Top over the summer and has played an important leadership role on her team ever since. Not only does her position on the court push her to be a leader, her personality and drive paved the rest of the road to leadership for her.
“I’ve come from an environment where I’ve always had to be a leader,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always been a point guard, so being vocal is just the attribute that I’ve always needed to have.”
Reynolds came to the Lady Vols from Portland, Ore., where she helped lead her Central Catholic High School team to a 6A state championship in 2013. She averaged 18.5 points per contest and was named a McDonald’s High School All-American for her efforts in her final season at CCHS.
It was never a question as to whether Reynolds wanted to continue playing basketball past high school or not. Her mother and siblings made it an easy choice for her.
“My mom kind of paved the way for all of us,” said Reynolds. “Her experience as a mom just leads the way. She tells us her experiences and how she went to college and played ball, and we all just really wanted to be like her.”
“My family has just challenged me all my life,” she said. “They really push me at all costs, and if I’m comfortable, that means I’m not getting better. Competition is high in our house.”
And the competition between Reynolds and other point guards Ariel Massengale and Andraya Carter is alive and well and considered very healthy by everyone surrounding the trio.
“With Jordan, you can’t even tell that she’s a freshman,” said assistant coach and point guards coach Jolette Law. “We’ve thrown a lot at her, but she has a great basketball IQ. She’s learning a lot and asking a lot of questions.
“She’s taller (than our other point guards), she’s 5-11. She’s a great passer and she pushes the ball up the floor well. We have very versatile guards and multiple people who can play the point.”
Not only does Jordan have the height, she has the smarts and the personality necessary to help lead the Lady Vols to their ninth national championship.
Reynolds says the goal of the Final Four isn’t just on the court, it isn’t just for the upperclassmen… it’s everywhere.
“It’s an everyday thing, and everyone expects it from you,” she said. “You have to give your best all the time at practice and even out of practice. A lot of people on campus and around the community ask if we’re going to get another national championship this year and it adds a little bit of pressure, but it’s good pressure that we deal with.”
It’s been a heavy topic of discussion about redshirt freshman Draya Carter’s return from a shoulder injury and surgery that brought an early end to her true freshman season. Carter joins junior point guard Ariel Massengale in the back court, but what hasn’t been mentioned is the combined leadership, athleticism and experience of the trio of guards – Massengale, Carter and true freshman Jordan Reynolds.
Even though it’s a group of underclassmen, the experience hasn’t been lacking at all, according to assistant coach Jolette Law.
“Everybody is playing extremely well, and we’re seeing lots of cohesiveness very early,” said Law. “I can see the leadership of Ariel Massengale. She’s really growing a lot. Draya Carter hasn’t missed a beat from last year, and they’re all just bringing their A-game and I hope it continues throughout the season.”
Early on, the freshman has taken a leadership role, but no matter how strong she may be, she’s been taking notes from Massengale.
“She is a great role model, and she’s really showed me the way so far,” Reynolds said of Massengale. “I remember watching her on TV, and she’s just a leader by example. I just want to be like her because she’s teaching me everything I need to know to be a point guard. She’s been a great leader.”
Coach Law has been stressing the leadership of her point guards, and it’s been showing through practices and during team bonding. Law says their leadership has been great, only to keep improving.
“I think that right now we’re just trying to get (the point guards) to be an extension of the head coach,” she said. “We’re letting them be the voice in the locker room and just teaching them what it looks like to be a point guard and a leader.
“We constantly meet with them and visit past experiences,” she continued. “We see what they want and what they’re looking for and then also we help lead them with anything they need help with. Off the floor, it’s a lot of team bonding exercises and just being around (the guards) a lot. They’re learning and they come in the office to watch film and learn more and we let them read materials about being a great leader.”
Even though there are some big basketball shoes to fill, Reynolds isn’t stepping down from the challenge of her first collegiate season.
“(High school vs. college) is a big difference,” she said. “The pace in college is much faster than high school. It’s more physical, more vocal and you just have to be on your toes at all times because you aren’t just playing anyone who isn’t as good as you, you’re playing people who are as good as or better than you at all times. It’s a very big change.”
But the change isn’t going to slow down the “Airess” of basketball.
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