Redding admits mistake, waits for redemption

Nathan McGann

This year’s Hoops Mania was special. The school celebrated basketball’s tradition and success, both past and present. Head Coach Jay Wright, flanked by graduates Shane Clark and Frank Tchuisi, handed out rings commemorating last season’s Final Four appearance. Player after player was introduced to an explosive crowd at the Pavilion. Corey Stokes walked out onto the stage to a round of applause. Corey Fisher, the same. Then, Scottie Reynolds emerged to a rousing ovation, enjoying the start to his senior season.

And that was it. The event went on, a significant absence going unnoticed.

Reggie Redding sat slumped in the crowd, a crisp Phillies cap pulled low over his face as he watched his teammates relish in their final opportunity to recognize their run to Detroit. He wasn’t permitted to participate in the Hoops Mania festivities. As a matter of fact, he’s not allowed to take part in any team activities. No appearances, no traveling and, worst of all, no games, at least not until Dec. 19 when he is reinstated by the University.

In the middle of August, Redding was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after Radnor police, investigating a car accident at Villanova, discovered the illegal substances in Redding’s vehicle. While the possession charges have since been dropped, the senior guard has found himself “not in good standing” with the school and, as a result, has faced stiff penalties. In addition to his banishment from team functions and games, Redding’s captaincy has been stripped. According to Head Coach Jay Wright, his captain title can be restored. Nevertheless, his final season on the Main Line was not supposed to begin like this.

“It’s been tough,” said Redding, wearing his traditional white No. 15 jersey most likely for the last time until his reinstatement. “There’s been a lot of disappointment. I was really down on myself. The support that I got from my teammates, my coaches, my family and the Villanova community as a whole has really helped me get through this whole thing.”

Wright was equally disappointed. He described how Redding was having a tremendous summer, staying on campus to take classes and practice with the team. Wright said he was very proud of how Redding had eagerly stepped into the role vacated by Dante Cunningham, serving as one of the team’s leaders both on and off the court.

The work Redding put in even earned him a personal phone call from Wright as everyone was preparing to return home for the remainder of their break. Wright remembers it as an important moment. The next day was different.

“I really felt sorry for him,” Wright said.

Wright admitted that it was unfortunate that Redding couldn’t be a part of the ring ceremony. Instead, he brought Redding into the Pavilion the night before Hoops Mania. The two walked to the “V” that graces center court, and it was there that the coach presented his player with his ring. The two-man ceremony was a far cry from what Redding was forced to watch the following evening.

In his experience, Wright has dealt with a number of players who have faced unfortunate situations and then allowed those situations to define them. Redding is different. If anything else, Wright is pleased with how he has conducted himself since the incident and gives all the credit to Redding’s parents.

“His father called me right after it happened,” Wright said. “And he didn’t ask about what to do next or about Reggie’s future. All he said was that they didn’t send Reggie to Villanova so that he could embarrass the program. He said he was sorry. That’s how Reggie was raised.”

Now, Redding is left to sit and wait. Although the school has given permission for him to continue practicing with the team, it’s a minor consolation. The Wildcats are favored to win the Big East and the team has scheduled a trip to Puerto Rico for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Classic, a trip Redding will miss. As the team looks to live up to all the hype, Redding will have to adjust to wearing street clothes and cheering from the stands on game days. Until the end of December, all he can do is lead from the shadows.

“The one thing you don’t want to do as a leader is lose the respect of your teammates and the younger guys,” Redding said. “I’m just trying to be a good example for those guys. Yes, I made a mistake, and I can’t change that. Hopefully, they can see how much I really care. I can’t wait for the season to start.”