For most college basketball walk-ons, practice is the extent of court time that they will see. If a walk-on is lucky, he might earn a few consolation minutes throughout the course of the season.
The role can be thankless with little playing time to show for the work in practice, but a walk-on’s impact to the team is one that can take many different shapes. This year, that is the case for Seton Hall with two freshmen walk-on guards in Philip Flory and Shavar Reynolds. Flory, a native of Oshkosh, Wisc. where he played high school basketball for Oshkosh North, had committed to fellow Big East power Marquette prior to even beginning his high school career.
After a coaching change, Flory rescinded his commitment from the school where his dad had competed and reopened his recruitment during his sophomore year of high school.
After taking a visit to Seton Hall campus in the spring, Flory decided to commit as a preferred walk-on, meaning he would be guaranteed a roster spot despite not having a scholarship.
“I came last spring for open gym and some workouts and they really liked how I played,” Flory said. “It was also a good connection because coach [Fred] Hill coached my dad at Marquette.”
Reynolds, on the other hand, took a less traditional path before arriving in South Orange. As the son of a military officer, Reynolds moved around frequently, although he considers Pennsylvania his home state. At different periods, Reynolds lived in Virginia, Maryland and even Japan for a short time before settling in New Jersey.
As a high school player, Reynolds played at Manchester Township High School in New Jersey before taking a postgraduate year at Coastal Academy. During his time at Coastal, his coach saw the talent, work ethic and character Reynolds displayed and worked to get him on a college roster. The coach was friends with Seton Hall associate head coach Shaheen Holloway and sent the Pirates’ coaching staff a tape in the hopes of getting their attention.
While Holloway did not actually watch any of Reynolds’ tape, he listened to his old friend and brought Reynolds in for a workout, where the freshman held his own and impressed coaches.
In the short period of time the walk-on duo have been part of the program, Flory and Reynolds have worked tirelessly to prove themselves to be valuable players. In both players’ eyes, their job is to push teammates in order to prepare them for the rigors of the season. Reynolds believes, if nothing else, he will bring energy to the team on a daily basis.
“If I don’t play much I want to bring energy and get everybody excited so no one is slacking and everyone is giving 100 percent,” Reynolds said.
Flory said as much, but also pointed out how he can bring knock-down shooting to the squad.
“In practice, the coaches have been telling me to shoot every time I get a look,” Flory said. “If I pass it, they say they are going to take me out.”
So far, the duo has worked to outperform their walk-on status, and are proving to be great presences one one of the most talented teams to come out of South Orange in recent memory.
“Any time we can add guys that make our team better, it’s tremendous,” Willard said. “Shavar and Phil have not only made practice better, but made our team better.”
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lombardo_andrew.