Yuma Catholic boys basketball coach Brooks Neumann's face lights up when he talks about Denmark Reid.
As a recruiting coordinator at Arizona Western in the early '90s, Neumann helped bring Reid to Yuma from Portland, Ore. The Shamrocks coach tells stories of Reid shooting the lights out for the Matadors, calling him one of the best shooters he's seen at Arizona Western.
“We were playing a game at Mesa, down 11 at halftime, and he hit the first five 3s to start the half before Mesa could call a timeout,” Neumann said. “Unbelievable shooter. He has the record for most 3-pointers at Arizona Western in a career and a season.”
Neumann had watched firsthand the skills of the bull — now he gets to coach the calf.
After sitting out a year because he transferred from Yuma High, senior forward Jaysn Reid has become the fifth starter for the Shamrocks, who are ranked No. 1 at Division IV according to the Arizona Republic. While Denmark made his living by filling up the stat sheet on offense from his 3-point bombs, his son has created his own niche for Yuma Catholic.
“Him and his son are completely different players,” Neumann said. “Jaysn is more of a defensive player and his dad was more of offensive player, all the way.”
“It's a good experience for me to watch my son play for a good coach,” said Denmark, who transferred to New Mexico State after his tenure with the Matadors. “It's good to see him play for a coach that I trust because as a father, playing college ball and a little professional ball, it's kind of hard for me to trust other coaches with my son.”
Jaysn had started at Yuma High, where he played his freshman year but struggled with eligibility his sophomore year. Before the following season, Denmark decided to send his son to Yuma Catholic to get his academics in order — but with that decision, it meant that Jaysn would have to sit out his entire junior year.
“It took me awhile to decide because I didn't want to miss a year at all,” Jaysn said.
“It takes a special kid to be able to sit out a season and only have one season of eligibility here,” Neumann said.
Instead of games, he only had practice. There was no playing for the Shamrocks as they made their unexpected run in the section tournament. During walk-through practices in which the Shamrocks went over the upcoming game, Jaysn merely stood on the sideline — doing nothing.
“That was really hard. It sucked,” Jaysn said bluntly. “I would try my hardest in practice and I couldn't play in a game. I just had to sit there.”
Luckily for the teenage Reid, his father had been in that position, too. As a freshman at Jesuit High School in Portland, Denmark transferred to Jefferson after three games and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. Also, after his two-year stint at Arizona Western, he sat out an entire season before starting his career at New Mexico State.
“I told him he just has to stay on top of his body, make sure he eats right and plays every day and works on his game,” Denmark said.
So Jaysn waited. And waited. And waited. The Shamrock practices became his games, which was good news for Yuma Catholic.
“He would make Matt (Pistone) and those guys work so much harder in practice that it helped us,” Neumann said. “It helped him and helped us.”
To start this season, the Shamrocks traveled to Salome and Jaysn finally got to put on his game jersey. As the teams prepared to start the game, he said he felt butterflies again.
“I was very nervous right before tipoff. My stomach was cramping and I hadn't felt that in a long time and I thought oh my gosh, it's back,” said Jaysn, who scored six points in the Shamrocks' 67-34 win.
Jaysn admits that he hears basketball stories from his dad — deep shots he took and ran back down the court before he saw it go in because he knew he made it. While that jump shot may have skipped a generation, Jaysn has turned into something else for the Shamrocks. He's the defensive stopper — the one Neumann said he puts on the opposing team's best player. He's been the perfect addition to the Shamrocks' talented group of sophomores.
It was a difficult year for Jaysn to be helplessly resorted to the bench. But as it turned out, for him, Neumann and the Shamrocks, it's been worth the wait.
“He's been like a glue to hold the team together,” Neumann said. “He's been that one missing piece.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.