Justin Reed getting ready for NBA

Justin Reed now a pro

Justin Reed has worked practically all his life to get to the NBA. In the June draft this summer, the Boston Celtics made sure he got there.

The legendary and historic franchise, with more NBA titles (16) than any other team in the league but without one since 1986, made Reed's dreams come true when it chose him as the 11th pick in the second round.

Reed became the 14th Ole Miss Rebel basketball player to be drafted by either the NBA or the old ABA. But he's the first chosen since Ansu Sesay was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1998 following his SEC Player of the Year season.

The Jackson native joins Carlos Clark (at Ole Miss for the seasons 1980-83) as former Rebels who have played for the Boston green and white. Clark was there two seasons and played on the Celts' 15th NBA title team in 1984.

Since draft day the last week of June, Reed has been getting ready for his move to New England and the start of camp in the weeks ahead.

"I played in some summer leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando," said Reed earlier this week, still at home in Jackson. "I've been here working out since then, just keeping in shape and trying to get ready."

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Reed said he felt like he would get drafted, but he wasn't sure where in the draft or by which team. Boston suits him just fine, said the first-ever four-time All-Southeastern Conference player for the Rebels in basketball.

"I had faith I'd get drafted," said Reed, who finished his Ole Miss career as the fifth all-time leading scorer in school history with 1,785 points. "I believed in Coach (Rod) Barnes and the coaches I had at Ole Miss. I remembered their positive and encouraging words throughout my career, and I just felt in my heart I'd get drafted. There were some people who told me to be prepared for the worst, but God blessed me with a chance and I am happy about that."

Reed said that while the word was out recently that he had come to terms with the Celtics and that everything was set contract-wise, he said it might be this weekend or beyond before all is said and done.

"We've been negotiating," he said. "I am guaranteed a spot on the team, and hopefully we will have all the other worked out soon."

In this summer's draft, the Celtics also selected 6-10, 265, Al Jefferson of Prentiss (Miss.) High School, an Arkansas signee, with the 15th overall pick; 6-4, 180, Delonte West, a three-year player at St. Joseph's, with the 24th pick; and 6-4, 213, Tony Allen of Oklahoma State with the 25th pick in the first round. In the second round, the Celtics selected Reed as the 40th pick of the draft.

"I'm excited about getting up there with those guys and helping make the Celtics better," said Reed, who was the first SEC player taken in the draft this year. "I'm excited about what they think I can bring to the team. They know I play good defense and will be an intense player. They have me projected as a small forward, and I'm looking forward to learning more when I get up there and start to work with them next month."

Barnes said he is excited for Reed and for Ole Miss that another Rebel is in the NBA.

"I'm so happy for Justin and his family," he said. "To see his dream come true, I'm just excited to be a part of it. It's great to see a kid come in and develop each year like Justin did. I know Justin would be quick to thank his teammates, and those guys are thrilled for him. It's huge for our program."

Reed finished his Ole Miss career as the only collegiate player from Mississippi to be named to the list of John Wooden Player of the Year Award candidates two times.

This past season, his last in the Red and Blue, Reed averaged 18.5 points-per-game in claiming the first SEC scoring title by a Rebel since 1992 when Joe Harvell was the league's scoring leader.

Reed, who posted 12 games of 20 or more points last season, also finished top 10 in the SEC in rebounds (sixth at 7.5) and field goal percentage (sixth at .464).

He says he can't wait to get started on his NBA career, which means he will get to play some games each season in the South and near his home state of Mississippi.

"I'm excited that a lot of my friends and Ole Miss fans can see us play when we are in places like Memphis and New Orleans," Reed said. "I'm ready to get up there to Boston and get started."

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