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January 24, 2007

Reynolds finds poise, role at Villanova

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January is normally the time of year when freshmen begin to wear down under the rigors of the college schedule.

For Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, January has become the perfect time for him to find his place on the court.

Reynolds was poised enough to earn the starting point guard spot, but deferred on the court to senior starters Curtis Sumpter, Mike Nardi and Will Sheridan.

"Each kid is different in how he reacts to his freshman year," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "He was never nervous. He was never tentative. He earned a starting spot right away, but he was very reluctant to be a leader on the floor because of his respect for Sumpter, Nardi and Sheridan."

In a 75-63 loss to DePaul on Jan. 6, Reynolds had little choice but to play more aggressively when two starters and Villanova's top bench player were limited with the flu. Reynolds broke out with 25 points and hasn't let up since.

Reynolds reached double figures only five times in first 13 games. In the next five games, he averaged 21.6. Because of his 26.5 points per game in Villanova's wins over No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 21 Texas last week, Reynolds is Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week.

"He knew he had to step up," Wright said. "He had the feeling that, 'I can do this and these guys are going to be OK with it.' "

Against Notre Dame on Jan. 17, Reynolds scored a career-high 27 points with four assists. He shot 8-for-12 from the field in Villanova's 102-87 win.

On Saturday, Reynolds upstaged another phenomenal freshman, Kevin Durant of Texas. Only days after Wright joked fans might come to the Wachovia Center to see Durant as a first-round pick for the 76ers, Reynolds won the matchup of first-year players.

Reynolds stole the show with 26 points, six assists and three steals in the absence of Sumpter, Villanova's leading scorer and rebounder. Sumpter missed the Texas game with a bruise on his leg just below the knee after he was kicked during the win over Notre Dame. Reynolds also finished the week converting 21 of 23 free throws.

His newfound bravado and Villanova's win streak came at a perfect time. The Wildcats had lost three of four and were starting to fade in the Big East race.

Reynolds' breakout comes right before a stretch of road games against Providence and Notre Dame and home games against Pittsburgh and Louisville.

Among others in consideration for Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors:

Ohio State center Greg Oden scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in an 82-63 win over Iowa on Saturday. He was 12 of 13 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr. had career-highs with 17 points and 10 assists in a 73-41 win over Northwestern on Jan. 17. He had four steals and only one turnover. He had 10 more assists and four steals in the win over Iowa on Saturday.

Texas forward Kevin Durant scored a career-high 37 points with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in the 105-103 loss to Oklahoma State in triple overtime on Jan. 16.

Cal forward Ryan Anderson scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 92-84 loss to Oregon on Saturday. He added 22 points and eight rebounds in the 77-74 win over Oregon State on Jan. 18.

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