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The workhorse of the VCU basketball team, Juvonte Reddic, didn’t know he’d be dealing with his most fraught, yet productive summer to date.
He began feeling back spasms towards the end of last season, right around NCAA Tournament time. The pain wasn’t bad enough, or nearly enough to bench him during the most important games of the year.
Then the offseason rolled around and the spasms gradually got worse, Reddic started to realize he couldn’t even stretch his right hamstring.
He went to the doctor, got an MRI and discovered he had a herniated disc. Reddic was given two options: go through rehab or have surgery done. Upon further review, he chose the latter.
“I knew it was the right thing to do,” Reddic said. “It was the right decision and I’m glad I made that decision.”
Out for close to two months, Reddic was cleared to play right before the Rams overseas trip to Italy on Aug. 5.
The summer wasn’t shot, not in the least bit. When Reddic enrolled at VCU two years ago, he came in as a scrawny 204-pound power forward receiving 11.2 minutes a game.
Now in his junior year, Reddic has transformed into a towering, wide-shouldered force in the trenches. He’s packed on pounds upon pounds of mass, weighing in now at over 240 pounds, according to VCU head coach Shaka Smart.
“Juvonte’s done a good job,” Smart said. “What he was able to do over the summer is gain some weight, get stronger.”
If his freshman year was an introduction, his sophomore season was his coming out party. Reddic’s minutes increased to 27.3 a game and drove VCU’s frontcourt, averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.
In a VCU brand and system that is groomed for speedy guards to race up and down the court, and to scramble the wiring of opposing offenses, Reddic’s tall, broad body fits in perfectly. He hauls up and down the floor flawlessly and was third on the team averaging 1.3 steals per game.
“When people think of VCU, they think of a lot of guards, running back and forth,” Reddic said. “But this year we’ve made it an emphasis on getting the ball inside because we noticed it worked for us last year.”
Reddic sheds the vibe of a weary post-player worn down from a arduous offseason. He exposes open wounds on his hands; a product of what Smart has called “the dog days of practice.” But Reddic is just getting started.
He’s dealt with the back issues, undergone the surgery, and added the necessary weight. Reddic said he feels like he’s grown into his own body and wants to expand his game. He’s polished his silky mid-range jumper that compliments his sky-towering hook shot.
But like coach-speak, the work isn’t done. More is expected of Reddic, and more is expected from him in a better league.
“Juvonte is not playing around, he’s been consistently good on the court,” junior forward D.J. Haley said. “You can expect to see some pretty good things from him this year.”