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St. Vincent Pallotti's Marcquise Reed, left, heads toward the basket in a game against Annapolis Area Christian School in 2013. Reed, who averaged 16.4 points a game this season, will play for Clemson University in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.
St. Vincent Pallotti's Marcquise Reed, left, heads toward the basket in a game against Annapolis Area Christian School in 2013. Reed, who averaged 16.4 points a game this season, will play for Clemson University in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night. (File photo)

The NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness gets underway today, but Clemson University’s Marcquise Reed, 22, and his teammates have to wait until 9:57 p.m. on Friday night to play when the 12th-seeded Tigers (23-9) face New Mexico State (28-5) in San Diego.

It won’t be the first NCAA appearance for the former Saint Vincent Pallotti standout, who also went to the tournament with Robert Morris University before transferring to Clemson after his only season there.

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He traded competition in the Northeastern Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It was for the opportunity to chase my dream and play at a higher level,” said Reed, who grew up in Landover and attended DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville as a freshman before he transferred to Pallotti. “I wanted to go to a Power Five school, especially in the ACC. I think [the ACC] is the next level to the NBA.”

Reed, now a redshirt junior guard at Clemson, had to sit out the 2015-16 season, since the NCAA requires student-athletes in basketball to do so when they transfer from one Division I school to another.

“It was a good year for me. I just got my body right. I got stronger in the weight room,” said Reed, who added that he was able to work on getting his shot off quicker.

He was the Northeast Conference rookie of the year in 2014-15 when he started 28 of 35 games and averaged a team-high 15.1 points per contest and also played 27.8 minutes per game for Robert Morrris.

For Robert Morris in the 2014-15 season, he thrived against ACC foes as a freshman.

He scored 24 points against North Carolina in his second career game, 21 against Clemson and 22 against eventual national champion Duke.

Clemson finished fourth in the ACC regular-season this year at 11-7, setting a school record for ACC wins in a season.

Reed, a 6-foot-3 guard named second-team all-ACC, said he can help his younger teammates prepare for post-season basketball.

“I just try to keep them motivated. I have been there before. You want to play your best basketball at the right time,” said Reed, who averaged a team-high 16.4 points per contest in regular-season play.

He has certainly done that this season, including a game-winning shot to beat Georgia Tech, 72-70, on the road Jan. 28.

Reed doesn’t hesitate to drive to the basket against bigger opponents, and that is what he did against the Yellow Jackets. “Marcquise made a heck of a play. Good players are hard to guard,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell told reporters after the win over Georgia Tech.

Reed was teammates at Pallotti with Tariq Owens, now a starting forward for St. John’s of the Big East Conference. “He can score. He is a great scorer,” Owens said of Reed. “He was a great teammate who could always score the ball. On ball defense, he had great hands.”

After playing as a sophomore and junior at Pallotti, Reed left for Capitol Christian Academy for his senior season. He averaged 31.2 points per game and had a career-high 52 against Upper Room Christian on March 15, 2014.

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He had interest from colleges such as Drexel and Florida Gulf Coast before heading to Robert Morris.

Now he is headed to the NCAA tournament once again, a year after Clemson went 17-16 and had to settle for the NIT.

“We are a lot more confident. We just want to play at a high level and I want to keep the guys motivated,” Reed said.

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