Beyond the Scoreboard: Reynolds’ “gym rat” among WNC’s top players

Isaiah Pruett is averaging 25.5 points a game for Reynolds High. (Photo credit: Reynolds High)

Isaiah Pruett is a self-described “gym rat,” a moniker he wears proudly.

And that dedication to basketball is a major reason Reynolds High is enjoying a successful season in the Western Mountain Athletic Conference.

An aggressive 5-8 senior point guard who relentlessly attacks the basket, Pruett has nearly doubled his scoring average from last year while leading the Rockets to a 13-2 record that includes a 7-2 mark and second place in the WMAC behind league leader North Buncombe.

Pruett is averaging 25.5 points per game and is sharing the love, with 5.2 assists and 1.7 steals per outing as well.

His all-out, all the time style drives an up-tempo offense that is averaging 72 points a game.

“Basketball has always been his love,” said Reynolds coach Ryan Stevens. “As a kid growing up in the Oakley youth leagues, he was always coming to games.

“He’s always in the gym because he loves it. As we speak, he’s in our gym shooting.”

A two-year starter, Pruett averaged 14 ppg last year for a 10-17 team but has really stepped up his game and the play of his team.

“I’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason and so have my teammates, and we’re just a lot better this year,” said Pruett, who is getting interest from colleges like Western Carolina, Wingate and Brevard.

“My work ethic probably doubled from last year. I worked on my game a lot.”

“His offseason was tremendous,” Stevens agreed.

“He grew a little bit, had another year in the weight room and his confidence has grown. And his teammates got better. Having some scorers around him has helped us and helped his game.”

Stevens, who previously coached the Reynolds girls, is in his second season with the boys team.

He and Pruett agree there was an adjustment period as Stevens installed his system and Pruett played his brand of aggressive attacking with the ball.

“I trust him to make the right play,” Stevens said. “He’s an attack guy, and I don’t want to take that away from him. But we work on decision-making every day.”

“Me and coach Stevens didn’t always see eye to eye last year,” said Pruett. “We had our ups and downs, but it’s better. He trusts me and I trust him, and he gives me a lot of freedom to run the offense.

“When you are winning, everyone gets along and feels better than when you are losing.”

As a guard who can finish at the rim and shoot the 3-pointer (31-of-96, 32 percent), Pruett said his goals include winning the conference title, being named Player of the Year and scoring 1,000 career points.

And playing in college.

“Potentially, I think he could be a very good player at the next level. His work ethic is second to none, and that’s helped drive the team to work harder,” said Stevens.

“I definitely want to play at the next level,” Pruett said. “I love the game and want to keep playing.

“Everyone asks me if I expected this (level of improvement) and I always answer that I’m not going to say I didn’t because I worked extremely hard. I want to be the best Isaiah Pruett I can be.”