It didn’t take long for Kentucky basketball fans to fall in love with Reid Travis. Before the former All-Pac 12 forward had his first Wildcats practice, he felt at home walking around the Lexington campus this summer after he transferred from Stanford.
“It’s crazy,” Travis said. “The first day I was out there. I had people recognizing me all over the place.”
True, the 6-8, 245-pound Travis stands out on campus. But he also stands out on a Kentucky roster loaded with former five-star recruits and future NBA draft picks. As a graduate transfer and fifth-year senior, the Minneapolis native represents something rare for coach John Calipari: an All-America-caliber player with a few years of experience.
“The biggest thing is he obviously wants me to come in and lead,” Travis said about Calipari. “Going against the best players in the country every day in practice also just ups your level of play.”
Travis is adding skills to boost his NBA stock, especially after not being invited to the predraft combine in Chicago in May.
“Calipari wants me to move better and be more athletic,” Travis said. “Be able to catch lobs and be able to guard multiple positions. Hit an open shot when a defender backs off. … Be a more versatile player.”
The former DeLaSalle standout got used to winning titles in high school with three consecutive Class 3A championships. Travis never played in the NCAA tournament at Stanford, but now he’ll be dealing with NCAA title expectations with the Wildcats.
Those expectations took a hammering Tuesday night, however. In No. 2 Kentucky’s humbling 118-84 loss to No. 4 Duke, Travis was one of the few bright spots, scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Still, many will predict the Wildcats will reach the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis.
“I love Minneapolis and I love Minnesota,” Travis said. “That’s always going to be home for me. Hopefully, I’m back for the Final Four. I think that’s naive to say you don’t think about it and you don’t know it’s in your hometown. For me, that would be a cool experience and something I can share with my family, but that’s not on my mind every day when I’m working. The biggest thing is setting goals throughout the season you can attain, and knowing if you accomplish the things we’re supposed to, everything will work itself out.”