Pervis Ellison saw Trayvon Reed play last summer, when the Philadelphia-based AAU team the former Louisville star was coaching lost to the Atlanta-based AAU team on which the 7-1 rising high school senior was playing.
Ellison, who as a freshman led the Cardinals to the 1986 national championship and was later the No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, will now coach Reed at the Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J.
“The kid is a legit 7-1, and with that size and stature he’s going to have an effect on the game,” Ellison said Tuesday. “He’s a game-changer from the defensive standpoint, with long arms of a [Dikembe] Mutombo. His offensive game is further along than Mutombo’s.”
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Ellison, whose Maryland-bound daughter Aja plays on the girl’s team at the Christian-affiliated South Jersey school, said he first heard from Reed’s family last week after an Indiana private school couldn’t accommodate Reed.
Even the former player once dubbed “Never Nervous Pervis” might have become a little excited about that possibility.
“Obviously, he’s a very talented young man and when you get a chance to coach someone of that stature, you always want that opportunity,” Ellison said.
Ellison said that Life Center Academy was also chosen because its location and religious affiliation were attractive to Reed’s parents, as was Ellison’s own background as a skinny kid who made it to the NBA as a center.
Daniel Moore, Reed’s stepfather, said Tuesday that the Indiana school Reed was supposed to attend this year “ran out of beds.” Moore said he wanted his son to be in a setting that stressed academics in order for Reed to be eligible in College Park as a freshman in 2014-15.
Ellison said one of the first things Moore, who said he is a Christian, asked about was the religious component of the school program. Ellison said that students are required to attend a church activity twice a week.
Moore "asked what the kids were going to be doing [in terms of religious activities] before he asked about anything,” Ellison said.
Ellison led Louisville to a national championship as a 6-9, 205-pound freshman. He was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Cardinals to a title game victory over Duke, which had defeated a Kansas team with a point guard named Mark Turgeon in the semifinals.
“He’s got a tremendous upside,” Ellison said of Reed, a four-star recruit rated as high as the No. 6 center in the country. “He’s also a good kid, he’s a ‘Yes sir, no sir’ kind of kid. ... I think I can be able to teach him a few things.”