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Villanova's Reynolds takes advantage of second chances

Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, right, believed he was headed to Oklahoma before Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson left for Indiana.


Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, right, believed he was headed to Oklahoma before Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson left for Indiana.


They say the game is all about second chances. In this case, so is the story.

Go back a few weeks, and see a Villanova basketball team that had zero seniors, was on the wrong end of the Big East standings and had lost eight of 12 games. Today, the Wildcats are heading to the Sweet 16.

Go back a few years, and see the frustration on Jay Wright's face when the Villanova coach realized the best recruit in the gym had already committed to Oklahoma. Today, that player is fast becoming a Villanova legend.

Go back a couple of decades, and see the infant in a Huntsville, Ala., hospital with no parents around to bathe him in love. On Sunday, he walked out of the St. Pete Times Forum and embraced a mother and father who were not responsible for his birth but, nevertheless, gave him a life.

Call it fate. Call it second chances.

Call it Scottie Reynolds' world.

You may have noticed Reynolds during an 84-72 victory against Siena on Sunday afternoon. He was the Villanova player with more points, rebounds, assists and minutes than any other. He was the one with the week-old stitches above his right eye, conducting, controlling and calming everyone before him on the court.

Which wasn't a big surprise since he is also the one most responsible for dragging Villanova back from a 4-7 start in the Big East to being one of only two No. 12 seeds still alive in the NCAA Tournament.

"A lot of things have happened that nobody will ever know," Reynolds said while sitting at his locker after the game. "So much has happened & but I feel fortunate."

Ostensibly he was talking about the Villanova season, but who knows what else he might have been implying. For Reynolds' trek to the Sweet 16 has been anything but a direct line.

How else do you explain a prep player who felt an instant bond with a college basketball coach, put his entire future in the other man's hands, then got a call telling him their time together was over before it began?

This was Reynolds a few years ago. He was a fairly well-known high school player in Herndon, Va., and he committed to play for Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma before the start of his senior season.

A couple of months later, Wright was in Georgia to recruit guard Chris Wright at a summer AAU game. He saw a player darting around the court, hitting outside shots and doling out assists.

"So I see him and I say, 'Is that Chris Wright?' Because I loved him," Wright said. "They tell me, 'No, that's Scottie Reynolds.' I said, 'Why aren't we recruiting that kid? That kid is unbelievable.' "

Told that Reynolds had already committed to Oklahoma, Wright promptly forgot about him. That is, until the next spring when Sampson leapt from Oklahoma to Indiana, leaving his Sooner recruits in limbo.

"It broke my heart," Reynolds said Sunday. "When he called me initially — I remember it like yesterday — I couldn't even speak. I literally didn't even speak to him on the phone."

Given a second chance at the recruiting process, Wright came hard and Reynolds decided at the last minute to choose Villanova instead of Michigan. A season later, he was the Big East rookie of the year. A few months after that, he was named a co-captain. And now he has put up 21 and 25 points in back-to-back NCAA games.

It is a sweet tale. Sweet and uplifting. And, yet, it's not even the best part of the story. Not even close.

A lifetime ago, a teenager in Alabama found herself unmarried, unemployed and pregnant. Faced with several unappealing choices, she made the only one that seemed to be in the best interests of her baby.

She gave him away.

She had no idea that, around the same time, Rick and Pam Reynolds were contemplating a major life decision. The couple had three biological children of their own but had served as foster parents for several others.

This time, they decided to take it a step further.

They not only took this infant into their home, but they also decided to adopt him to become a permanent member of their family.

For Scottie, it was literally the second chance of a lifetime.

"She knew she wouldn't be able to take care of me, so she gave me up. It's the most unselfish thing she could have done for me," Reynolds said.

"The people I'm with now are the greatest people in the world. Without them, I wouldn't be in the position I am now. I thank God every day that they gave me the opportunity to live."

All these years later, Reynolds feels he has debts to pay. To the biological mother who wanted him to have a chance in life, and to the parents who actually provided it for him.

It is his obligation, he said, to make the most of his life. To capitalize on the opportunities he has been given. To do any less would be a disservice to those who helped him along the way.

The time is coming, he said, when he will try to contact his birth mother to explain all of this. And to thank her in the same way he continues to thank the parents who raised him.

But here's the funny part, says his father.

Whether he realizes it or not, Scottie has already repaid his debt to his parents. Repaid it in ways he probably won't understand until he is a parent himself.

"Watching him play, seeing him develop as a person, it's all been tremendous," said Rick Reynolds, who along with Pam adopted two more children after Scottie.

"Several times, I've sent him text messages just saying, 'Thanks for all the joy you've given us.' "

Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report. John Romano can be reached at

Villanova's Reynolds takes advantage of second chances 03/23/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 1:49pm]
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