Being a teenager in the smartphone era has its benefits — especially if you’re as basketball obsessed as Miles Reynolds.
When he wasn’t taking family trips to United Center for an NCAA Tournament game, the Chicago native strategically planned "bathroom breaks" in middle school and high school to check his phone during the early first-round games, open the “March Madness” app and see if he could catch the end of any close battles that conflicted with class.
“I've always loved watching March Madness,” Reynolds said. “I think it's the best time of the year.”
Reynolds always dreamed of playing during his favorite month, but his college career up to this point hasn’t been so generous to that aspiration.
He originally signed with St. Louis out of Whitney Young Magnet High School and played two seasons with the Billikens. He then transferred to Pacific, but his goal of making the tournament never materialized at either school.
“Selection Sunday has always been tough, because as a competitor, I just want to go out there and compete against the best teams,” Reynolds said. “And I haven't had the opportunity to do that.”
The graduate transfer's shot finally arrived, however, on Sunday.
“It meant everything,” Reynolds said of reaching the tournament. “It was the No. 1 reason why I committed to come to OU last spring. We were working so hard towards that goal. It's kind of expected here at OU. But me, coming from other programs that haven't gotten the chance to make the Big Dance, it meant a lot.”
His feelings toward earning a bid were apparent when Reynolds jumped into senior center Jamuni McNeace’s arms after OU was revealed as the No. 9 seed in the South region Sunday evening.
The Sooners’ selection to the tournament didn’t necessarily surprise Reynolds; although, he admits he was a bit antsy leading up to the announcement.
Reynolds didn’t check any “Bracketology” projections all season until OU lost its Big 12 tournament opener a week ago.
“I think the first time I actually went on there was after we lost to West Virginia in Kansas City, just to see,” Reynolds said. “I was kind of nervous, but I never had any doubt that we weren't going to be in there.”
Tension began to build inside Lloyd Noble Center, though, after the Sooners weren’t announced as a No. 10 seed in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I knew a lot of people projected as a 10 [seed] to Des Moines, so when that first region was called, I sort of got a little nervous,” Reynolds said. “... As soon as the next region was called, we were in there, so it was a good feeling to get that over with as quick as possible.”
Reynolds’ mother, Sandra, could relate.
She spent plenty of days analyzing which teams the media predicted as the last four in and first four out of the tournament, as well as scenarios that might affect OU’s position on the bubble.
“I was super scared when so many of the [conference] leaders didn't win their tournaments,” she said.
Sandra Reynolds couldn’t be happier for her son, whom she’ll finally get to watch play in an environment that she’s spent so many years taking him to as a spectator.
“He wanted to go to a conference where he would be challenged,” she said, “play the level of competition that he deems himself in the same peer group and have an opportunity to shine on a national stage.”
A young basketball fan restricted by their school schedule might be inclined to do what Miles Reynolds once did as a kid on Friday morning when the ninth-seeded Sooners face Ole Miss at 11:40 a.m. on truTV.
For those who do, they’ll witness him get the opportunity he's waited for with the program he bet on to make it happen.
“It's definitely been what I thought it would be," Miles Reynolds said of his first and final season at OU. "... If I was going to start or come off the bench, I was going to bring it every night. I had to bring that intensity and make plays on both ends.
"My one year here at OU has been great so far, but I hope it goes a little longer.”