Born: August 26, 1999
Town: Asbury Park
Nazreon Hilton Reid was born August 26, 1999 in Asbury Park. Naz was raised in a single-parent home with his mother, grandmother and two sisters. He was big and athletic, and participated in neighborhood football and basketball games. His two sports heroes were Odell Beckham and Kevin Durant, but he modeled his hoops repertoire after John Wall and Kyrie Irving. Naz was assuming that he would grown to 6’3” or 6’4”, so he viewed himself as a guard. But during his prep career at Roselle Catholic High School—about 20 miles up the Garden State Parkway—he blew past guard, swingman and small forward size to full-blown power forward: 6’9” and 250-plus pounds.
Dave Boff’s Roselle Catholic varsity had loads of basketball talent. When Naz began his high-school career, the Lions had future NBA players Isaiah Briscoe, Chris Silva, Malachi Richardson and Louis King on the squad. Naz was a raw talent with an appetite for competition (and Chick-fil-A) who became the team’s star after the upperclassmen graduated and went on to play for Division-I schools. As a freshman, he was a key to the schools victory in the 2015 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final over Sparta’s Pope John XIII Regional squad. As a senior in 2017–18, Naz was good for 15 points, 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks most nights. He led Roselle Catholic to victory over Don Boscoe Prep in the Tournament of Champions and dominated opponents in the 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta. King was also invited to participate in the game.
Naz was ranked among the best high-school players at his position and had been drawing strong interest from several top programs dating back to middle school in Asbury. He chose Louisiana State, Odell Beckham’s alma mater, following in the footsteps of another New Jersey big man, Shaquille O’Neal. LSU’s coach, Will Wade, and his staff connected with Naz and convinced him to shed about 30 pounds of excess weight. By the time his freshman season got rolling, he was lean, mean and making a difference at both ends of the court. He shot well from the perimeter, crashed the boards, demonstrated guard-like mobility and held his own as an interior defender.
Naz had a pair of 29-point games his freshman year and was a big part of LSU’s status as a Top 20 team. The Tigers finished atop the SEC standings but lost in the SEC Tournament to Florida. LSU won ints first two NCAA Tournament games, against Yale and Maryland. Naz had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Yale and 13 points against Maryland. In the Maryand game, he neutralized the Terps’ two frontline stars, Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando. The Tigers’ run ended in the Sweet 16 against Michigan.
Naz averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds as a freshman. He had the look of a man among boys in most of LSU’s games in 2018–19, leading most experts to assume he would leave school and enter the NBA Draft. After hearing from enough people that he would go in the first round, Naz pulled the trigger, declaring his eligibility and hiring an agent. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft came and went and his name was not called. Over the summer, Naz worked out a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that started him on their G League team in Des Moines, Iowa.
Naz joined the T-Wolves for a couple of games in December and then joined the club for good in 2020. He was one of the first men off the bench for Minnesota, averaging between 10 and 20 minutes a game. He was not shy about exploiting mismatches and fearless when it came to putting up shots. Despite playing little more than a quarter on average, Naz scored in double figures in 6 of his first 8 games after rejoining the team. In a January game against Oklahoma City, he nailed four 3-pointers and had his first 20-point game as a pro.