TAZEWELL, Va. - It has been a long dry spell for Tazewell boys basketball.
Perhaps a dash of "Juice" will energize the Bulldogs.
Omar "Juice" Reed is the latest head coach for the Bulldogs, who have reached double figures in wins just once since his senior season under Tim Rasnick at Tazewell in 2005.
"We had some good athletes, but we also had skilled players at that time," said Reed, whose Bulldogs hosted a regional game that season. "We played together, we traveled together, did AAU basketball so we were a group that grew up playing basketball together and it showcased ourselves when it came to our high school years.
"We were pretty good in high school. We had won the Southwest District tournaments and the district. I don’t know what success of that nature has happened since 2005."
Not much, but don’t put all the blame on the coaching. Reed, who is replacing former classmate Patrick Cronce, is the fifth head coach of the Bulldogs since 2014.
"The high school level is not really our issue. It is letting them (players) come through the youth leagues and the middle schools without teaching them the proper fundamentals and getting them any kind of skill set," Reed said. "Then when they get to high school we have failed them because we haven’t taught them proper basketball so when we are not successful at the high school level, whoever is coaching them gets frowned upon.
"You have got to have a product, AKA, the kids, in order for you to showcase something. Regardless, you can have some of the best coaches in the world come to Tazewell High School and try to coach, but if they don’t have any kids to really work with that know basketball, have a high IQ level and a skill set, then we are still not going to be successful regardless of who is coaching."
Reed certainly brings basketball genes to the job. He was a terrific basketball and baseball player at Tazewell, becoming an NAIA All-American on the court at Bluefield College. He spent eight years playing overseas, and was also part of the NBA Developmental League and played for the Boston Celtics in the NBA Summer League in 2013.
He moved, along with his wife, Jelicia, and son, Julian, to Tazewell from Houston last year. They operate The Juice and Her Smoothie Bar in Tazewell and he served as the middle school basketball coach last season, and will coach both middle school and varsity basketball next season.
"I just want to help out the best I can," Reed said. "Give out the best knowledge and information that I can to these kids to help them improve in basketball, but more so, my biggest thing is we have a thing of lack of respect for authority, attitudes, bad body language.
"I see this stuff around our sports programs. For this first year of me coaching varsity it will not even be about wins and losses. It will about me coaching them as young men and trying to improve on their character."
He will take over a program that has fallen on hard times, having compiled just one double-digit victory and no winning seasons since ‘05. The Bulldogs have been winless twice in the last five years, including last season.
"It has been unfortunate for Tazewell in terms of basketball. I remember being overseas and being told the one year that they didn’t win a game. I am like ‘not one game’ and unfortunately that happened again this year," Reed said. "We have to figure out something and it has to be a complete culture change around here before we are able to make any positive strides."
Expect his players to get in the gym. His middle school kids will participate in the
Graham Summer League, while his high school players will take part in workouts, open gyms and possibly scrimmages with area teams.
There is talent there, but they are missing key ingredients that Reed will look to provide.
"Tazewell has had some good athletes with good ability, but we lack the skills and the basketball IQ," he said. "When it comes to running and jumping and things like that, we have had athletes, but athletic ability doesn’t win games.
"It is a great asset to be athletic, but you have to have skills. That is where we lack, the fundamentals. That is what I have to teach. I have to re-program these kids from their mindset to their ability as well. I have some work to do."
Expect Reed to work at it. He is all about making an impact.
"My whole life goal is to have an impact. That is my motivational word, impact," he said. "I want to impact my community, impact the customer’s diet, impact the youth and the men of this town, impact basketball in this town and have an impact on my son.
"If he sees me as a small business owner, if he sees me coaching kids, maybe he grows up and remembers that and it motivates him. Just try to have an impact. That is my thing."
email@example.com | Twitter: BHCWoodson | (276) 645-2543