SALT LAKE CITY — If you were tuned in to the local telecast of the Utah Jazz’s home game against the Toronto Raptors on Monday, you probably noticed a new face on the set.
A massive, 6-foot-11, 245-pounder joined AT&T SportsNet for the live broadcast.
Salt Lake City Stars No. 1 pick Willie Reedappeared on the pregame show with host Alema Harrington, Mike Smith and former Jazzman Ron Boone. Then, during the third quarter, he joined award-winning play-by-play broadcaster Craig Bolerjack and retired Jazzman Thurl Bailey on the sidelines while job shadowing the crew.
“Willie didn’t miss a beat,” Bolerjack told the Deseret News. “(Thurl) and I took him from Kansas City to St. Louis to the NBA, the G-League, ice skating and back and without a note in hand…gave insight on the court with ease and insight.”
Then the very next night during the Stars’ home opener at Vivint Arena, Reed went off for 31 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists on 14-for-20 shooting to lead Salt Lake City (2-0) to a 106-96 win versus the Texas Legends.
Reed previously appeared in 152 career NBA games over three seasons with Brooklyn, Miami, the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons, but maintains an affinity for the other side of the game.
“In school, I decided to go with media and journalism,” said Reed, who studied journalism during his two seasons at Saint Louis University from 2008-10. “I’ve always been good in front of the camera and speaking to people so I thought, ‘What better way to keep going with that than to talk about the game I love?’ so that’s how it came about.”
Reed also attended the National Basketball Players Association’s Sportscaster U. internship at Syracuse University in the summer of 2017. Once he was drafted by the Stars, he requested to shadow a couple of Jazz games and the front office made it possible for him to not only pursue his passion on the court but also develop skills off the floor throughout his time in Utah.
As a journalism major, it also affects how he interacts with reporters.
“Actually, it just helps me to answer the question,” Reed said. “I know how to get around the question if I want to without seeming like I’m getting around a question or just to be able to turn it to a point where I can go back to my teammates or something like that so being in the journalism field has really helped me, especially with interviews.”
Reed lists NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, the NBA on TNT cast and Mark Jackson among his favorite analysts. While watching NBA games, he now claims to listen to the broadcast side more than the game.
The biggest things he took away from Bolerjack, Bailey and the Jazz crew were to always smile and stay confident, even during slipups.
“The hardest part was probably learning about the truck and the different things that go on behind the scenes that people don’t know,” Reed said. “Everybody listens to the broadcast side and they see the guys on TV and what they do with the camera but you don’t understand what they do in the room and the truck before the game and during the game.”Comment on this story
As part of his job shadow, Reed took the same approach he does with basketball.
With the Raptors-Jazz action tipping off at 7 p.m., he arrived at Vivint Arena around 4:45 p.m. then stayed working until nearly 8 p.m. on the day before his own game.
Stars coach Martin Schiller admires that dedication on and off the court.
Reed’s defensive ability, activity and length are all noticeable talents and now his media skills are on display, too.
“I heard him,” Schiller said of Reed. “I thought he was very good. He really sounded like a pro. It was pretty impressive.”