Focused Reese sees growth, potential
Derek Reese has been along for the ride the last three years, as one turbulent wave after the other has moved through the Tennessee basketball program.
From Cuonzo Martin bolting for California after Tennessee's Sweet 16 run in 2014, to the one-and-done hire of Donnie Tyndall to now, with Rick Barnes taking over the program just days removed from Tyndall's ouster.
And make no mistake, Reese has learned --- the hard way --- how to handle a coaching transition.
"It was really tough going from Coach Martin to Coach Tyndall, because it's a lot of transition, something new," Reese said Tuesday during the Rocky Top League at Knoxville Catholic High School. "And also, I made the mistake of not preparing myself, not working out. I was kind of like, 'Ok, I'm not going to do anything.'
"When I found out Coach Tyndall was getting fired, I (knew) I can't make that same mistake. I have to come in and keep working, I can't get complacent."
It's that thought that kick-started Reese's off-season goal of adding weight, and a lot of it. The right kind of weight, in the right places, too.
"That's when I really started getting in with Todd and really lifting," Reese said, referencing former strength coach Todd Moyer. "I gained a lot of weight there. That's one thing I learned. Transition is a lot easier now."
Reese weighed 212 in April. He's added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-8 frame since then, weighing in at 232 with his body fat hovering around 6.7 percent, leaving him eight pounds shy of his goal.
"I wanted to do it when Coach Tyndall was here," Reese said of the added weight. "When the season was over I was lifting with Todd everyday. Just a very heavy (workout), every single day. Even after he got fired, I was still lifting with Todd. That's when I gained all my muscle, got a lot bigger, a lot stronger in my legs and upper body.
"I really wanted to get to 6-8, 240. That's a good set. That will help me be able to battle down low and still play on the perimeter. I want to be big and be able to move, still be mobile. That's why I've focused on getting my body right."
Reese said he's been working at the four position --- one that caters to his skillset --- during workouts under Barnes and Tennessee's new coaching staff.
"The way his offense is spread, the four has to play the perimeter," Reese said. "So I have a lot of free space to do my skillset, what I can do. A lot of pick-and-pop situations, pick-and-roll where I have a guard on me so I can post them up down low.
"I'll get the ball a lot from the top of the key, from trail positions, that trail three. Or I can pump fake and draw, have a bigger and slower man on me. There's a lot in this offense where I can still play my game from the four spot."
Tennessee's offense under Barnes will be more "run and go," as Reese described it. Relying on both athleticism and attention to detail.
"He's big on fastbreaks, big on transition," Reese added. "And he's big on, very big, on details. Everyone in an exact spot every time.
"He wants us to run. He wants us to run and use our athleticism, our speed, our versatility."
Which fits right in with Reese's goal this summer. Adding weight that's both the right kind and the right amount. Getting more physical, staying mobile.
"I feel stronger, I feel a lot quicker," Reese said. "People say I look quicker, I look bigger. I can feel it. And I don't feel heavy.
" ... I've been very focused on what I've been eating, trying to stay in the best shape I can."