Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves, one of the Portal’s leading scorers, signed on Wednesday at Kentucky.
Reeves chose the Wildcats on a final five that included Nebraska, Xavier, Oregon and DePaul.
“I feel like my college experience and work habits will prepare me for Kentucky,” Reeves told ESPN. “I realize we’re everybody’s big game. At Illinois State I was one of the leaders and I feel like I can lead at Kentucky. I understand the workload, the practice, the movie work and I can help explain it to younger people.”
Reeves visited Kentucky this month, and coach John Calipari made a strong impression on the 6-foot-6 fullback.
“His goal is to win a national championship and that’s my goal,” Reeves said. “I want to learn from who I think is the best and that’s Coach Cal and his team. Coach Cal loves his players, he loves the game, has developed pros and won a national championship. That’s which drew me to Kentucky. Coach Cal is a very relatable guy. [assistant] coach Chin Coleman and my father are very good friends. They went to the same high school at different times so they know each other from the city. I trust him 100%.”
A second-team selection from the Missouri Valley last season, Reeves averaged 20.1 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 39% from 3-point range. He had two 30-point outings, including a 34-point performance against Valparaiso in February.
Reeves was one of the biggest breakout stars in the middle of the major world, going from averaging 7.2 points and 12.4 points as a rookie and sophomore, respectively, to more than 20 per game as a junior. He also improved his 3-point shooting significantly after going just over 30% his first two years with the Redbirds.
“My decision had nothing to do with NIL. I made my decision based on basketball and which school I wanted to graduate from,” Reeves said. “Kentucky has a great culture. It’s where I want to be and it’s with them that I want to be.”
Calipari and Kentucky had great success with transfers last season, led by Wooden Award winner Oscar Tshiebwe. Other transfers Kellan Grady, Davion Mintz, Sahvir Wheeler and Jacob Toppin also played key roles last season. Reeves is expected to bring size and perimeter shooting alongside Wheeler, former Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick and incoming rookie Cason Wallace.