Reginald Lee Neely isn’t playing around.
Simply put, as it pertains to his basketball mechanics, this Briarcrest Christian School basketball standout is forthright and to the point.
Ask him to assess his skills and be prepared for Neely’s customary direct responses.
“I feel like I can blow past anybody,” Neely told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I believe I am one of the best players in Memphis in my age group, I believe I can finish anything at the rim.”
Some pretty dauntless statements from 5-foot-11, 150-pound eighth grade swingman who, like his peers — most notably upperclassmen — boasts lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the collegiate level.
If nothing else, Neely is making a solid case that by the time his prep career ends, he could emerge as one of the finest basketball players ever to put on a Briarcrest tradition-rich uniform.
For starters, this athletically-talent kid, who was a catalyst on the Saints’ eighth grade team this past season, demonstrated time and again that he destined to hold his own once he suits up for the school’s varsity squad in the coming years.
Add to the fact that Neely has become an effective player for Memphis’ Team Thad AAU team, and it’s no wonder many who have followed his hoops prowess believe the sky’s undoubtedly is the limit for a thriving student athlete who, well, isn’t playing around.
“I am a good athlete, a good listener, and a good communicator on the floor,” said Neely, steadily being rather straight forward as it critiqued his skills. “I take my education and spiritual growth very serious. (I train) as often as I can, which lately has only allowed for two times weekly”
In assessing his progress, coupled with his strengths and weaknesses this past season for Briarcrest coach John Harrington and Zac Davis’ eighth grade squad, Neely was as good as advertised.
Next year, though, he will be expected to pick up where we left off as a member of the Saints junior varsity team.
According to his coaches, Neely is deemed a versatile scorer, a sharp communication on the floor, and an efficient player who displayed solid ball-handling skills and is aggressive on defense.
As for his offseason plans, Neely’s primary focus is to improve his overall game.
“Getting stronger, getting time in at the gym, getting in shape, working on my fundamentals, and actively playing competitive ball with my competitive team,” Neely said.
With some much basketball to play in what figures to be a promising career, Neely’s mother, Felicia Collins-Neely, is thoroughly impressed with the strides her son has made in recent years.
“I love to watch him play…and to think he could go a long way with his love for the game is scary,” Collins-Neely explained. “The sport is so competitive and everyone is always fighting to be in the spotlight…it’s scary. I have always told him there are no limits to what he is able to achieve. Through commitment, practice, and time, he can earn anything he sets his mind to. But, he knows his education is first and foremost.”
Simply put, all her son needs to do is keep his focus on the larger picture. In other words, education first, athletics second.
The rest, Collins-Neely said, will take care of itself.
“I don’t believe anyone has a limit,” Collins-Neely said. “You set your own limits. With that being said, it’s all about your determination, how you handle setbacks, how you pick yourself up from a fall, and how you continue to stride full force toward you goal. The sky is the limit for my son because I make sure he knows that he will not make every shot, he will not pass every test, and everyone will not like him.”
Like her son, mom isn’t playing around either.
Rather, she’s only being forthright and to the point regarding her son, who’s clinging to lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the collegiate level.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.