For DeLaSalle's Travis, the early bird gets the rebound

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2013 - 9:28 PM

While others sleep, the Islanders star gets to school early to work on his game.

 

At 4:30 a.m. Monday, Reid Travis woke up and snow had just begun to fall. Basketball practice at DeLaSalle didn’t start until 6 a.m., which meant many of his teammates still were sleeping as he and his father, Nate, made their way to the downtown Minneapolis high school on Nicollet Island.

Accumulating snow wasn’t the reason for his early morning, though. Travis and his dad always want to be the first to arrive. Inside the quiet gym, the two big bodies get to work, drilling on Reid’s post-up moves, jump shots and free throws.

Once his teammates arrive for practice, Travis fills any down time with jump-rope drills or instruction.

It’s becoming more difficult to separate oneself in Minnesota’s rising crop of nationally recognized boys’ basketball talent. Several metro-area juniors and seniors could make a strong case for top billing, but Travis isn’t concerned about arguing or showcasing. His season — leading his team back to the Class 3A tournament with special and unbending effort — earned his selection as the 2013 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.

The muscular Travis enters Wednesday’s quarterfinal round averaging 26.4 points (68 percent from the field) and nine rebounds per game this season. He routinely posts double-doubles. He is on track to break the Islanders’ single-season field-goal percentage record and close to cracking the state’s all-time top 10 (he would need to top 70.57 percent).

“There are a few other guys I put up there before me, but I feel like I’m up there,” Travis said. “You can’t really separate yourself. You just have to stay on that line.”

Travis has separated himself, though. His line isn’t just high, but on a sharp incline. The junior — a 6-7, 230-pound power forward — more than fulfills the first half of his position name. His arm muscles pop as he uses his long limbs to keep opponents out of the paint or throw down dunks. Scoring against him can seem impossible.

DeLaSalle’s Drayton Carlberg is challenged with that task on a daily basis. The 6-5, well-built sophomore does his best to get past Travis, but admits he mostly has only bumps and bruises to show for it.

“It wears down your body,” Carlberg said.

The Islanders’ 27 vanquished opponents agree. Even Park Center All-Metro point guard Quinton Hooker said Travis was the biggest challenge his team faced in a season lineup that included Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones and defending champion Osseo. There was no one, nor any defensive setup, that could stop him.

In DeLaSalle’s only defeat this season, to nationally ranked Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) in a holiday tournament, Travis still scored 29 points.

“He dominates the post,” Hooker said. “He’s one of the biggest force players this year. Trying to contain him is very difficult.”

Travis is the second Islander to earn Metro Player of the Year since the selections began in 1986. Coach Dave Thorson said the junior already has earned a special place in the storied history of the DeLaSalle program.

“I always wished [to become one of DeLaSalle’s all-time best],” Travis said. “I expected myself to be big and I wanted it to be my time when I got the chance.”

He’s sacrificed his own time to get there, and his wish has been granted.

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