Troy Reid-Knight: Unconventional Artistry

Vaughan native Troy Reid-Knight, a former two-time OFSAA champion, has asserted himself as one of Canada’s premier lockdown defenders.

(Print version of this story appears in the Spring issue of the Vaughan Sports Magazine)

It’s a Friday afternoon in Bangor, Maine, and the University of Maine Black Bears are locked in a tightly-contested affair against their America East rivals, the Albany Great Danes.

Vaughan’s very own Troy Reid-Night is scoreless in the contest, but finds himself defending Albany star Peter Hooley in the waning seconds. On the final possession, the Black Bears’ defence smothered out any potential shot attempt, securing a thrilling 81–79 upset victory.

“It was a long time coming,” said Reid-Knight of the Black Bears’ hard-fought win. “We’ve been trying to piece it together all year because we know we can do stuff like this and honestly, I don’t think we played our best game, but we still competed and had great results.”

Victories have been few and far between for the Black Bears over the course of the past few seasons. Dating back to Reid-Knight’s freshman campaign in 2013, the Black Bears have recorded just 10 wins in 38 regular season games.

Reid-Knight, 21, isn’t accustomed to losing. As a standout guard for Vaughan Secondary School, he captured back-to-back OFSAA championships in 2011 and 2012.

The Voyageurs’ 2011 OFSAA triumph coincided with Andrew Wiggins’ rise to stardom, which subsequently led to his departure to Huntington Prep in West Virginia. During Reid-Knight’s junior year in 2010–2011, Vaughan Secondary was the mecca of high school hoops in the GTA, and Troy was the team’s go-to defensive stopper while Wiggins produced all the highlights.

“It was something I was used to, because I played with (Andrew) Wiggins while we were younger. A lot of people were excited to see Andrew play for Vaughan. In hindsight, it was a very special experience, but in the moment, you don’t notice a huge difference,” said Reid-Knight, “I had already known Andrew for a long time, so the things he did (on the court) were just normal but seeing people’s reactions after he’d do a windmill or something would get them so excited. It was a great feeling having him out there and having him as a teammate because he could have gone anywhere but he chose to play for his home school.”

Reid-Knight also suited up alongside Wiggins as a member of CIA Bounce’s renowned AAU program. In 2012, Bounce assembled a star-studded roster which, in addition to Wiggins, included current Milwaukee Bucks point guard and Syracuse alum, Tyler Ennis, as well as Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes and South Carolina guard Duane Notice.

Bounce dominated the AAU summer circuit, winning a handful of tournaments both in Canada and the United States. Reid-Knight’s defensive prowess was on full display during Bounce’s appearance at the Nike Peach Jam tournament in Augusta, Georgia. In a game against the Howard Pulley Panthers, a Minnesota-based AAU program, highly touted 2014 recruit Tyus Jones erupted for 21 points in the opening half, prompting Bounce head coach Tony McIntyre to call upon Reid-Knight to try and shut down the Panthers star. In the second half, Reid-Knight limited Jones to just nine points, as Bounce earned a decisive 83–69 victory.

“I wouldn’t put it all on me, our team really helped,” said Reid-Knight. “When a player is so good, it’s not just me, but the whole team guarding him. It was just my coach instilling confidence in me and knowing if Tyus got by me, I have teammates ready to help.”

Reid-Knight’s love affair with basketball began the same way it did for many of his fellow Vaughan-based ballers. The six-foot, 190-pound guard grew up as an avid supporter of the Toronto Raptors and first hooping in the Raptor Ball program.

“Soccer was my first organized sport and then I started playing Raptor Ball basketball after that,” said Reid-Knight. “The program was at Westmount and Antonio Davis’ kids actually went to the same one, so I started playing more organized basketball after that.”

Reid-Knight, a third-year Biology major, is an unselfish, team-oriented individual. He is regarded as a tenacious perimeter defender, equipped with excellent footwork and quick hands. Kyle Julius, Reid-Knight’s longtime off-season trainer, says Troy is one of the most intelligent and committed players he’s ever worked with.

“Right away, Troy was one of our favourites’, he was easily one of the most mentally tough kids. You can really challenge him and he comes right back with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” said Julius, who currently serves as the head coach of the NBL’s London Lightning. “Troy’s a warrior. He works his tail off. He doesn’t have the highest skill level or athleticism, but he has a fantastic basketball IQ.”

Reid-Knight was also part of the A-Game Hoops program that combined the five best high school players Julius worked with, along with five ex professional players. The team played a full schedule against CIS opponents and the results were quite impressive.

“Troy played both the point and the two on that team, and was able to compete against university guys in grades nine, ten and eleven. It was astonishing; we finished with a record of 49–3. The older guys loved Troy because he was so tough, and we knew he was gonna be successful.” Said Julius on Reid-Knight’s play in the A-Game program.

When it came time for Reid-Knight to select his post-secondary playing destination, the two-time OFSAA champion sought guidance from fellow GTA kids. Justin Edwards, a Whitby native and former Black Bear, was instrumental in luring Reid-Knight to the University of Maine.

“Justin pretty much sold the program to me but the one thing I liked about Maine was that there were a lot of kids from Canada and the GTA,” explained Reid-Knight. “When I went to visit (the school), I felt comfortable, and sure enough, Maine has become a home away from home (for me).”

Reid-Knight has aspirations of playing professionally but if no offers circulate following the conclusion of his collegiate career, Troy will shift his focus and try to gain admission to medical school.

This summer, Reid-Knight will return home and jump right into the Vaughan pickup runs filled with NBA and NCAA level talent, that he believes have been one of the biggest parts of his development.

“I like playing against Nick (Wiggins) because even though it’s pickup he’s trying to show everyone up. It gets pretty intense. From a young age the best players are going against each other, competing and always trying to win…it’s such a tight knit community there weren’t many distractions so that created great players like Andrew, Tyler (Ennis), Duane Notice, X (Rathan-Meyes). We all played against each other while we were younger and now we’re playing against each other for our respective schools and with each other for our country.”