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No. 1 Salt Lake City Stars pick Willie Reed brings NBA experience, holds close ties to Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — Winters in Utah can get cold.

That’s why Willie Reed is prepared to dress for the occasion as he starts a new chapter of his basketball journey.

“Luckily, I still have my same coat from when I was with the Brooklyn Nets,” said Reed, who was drafted No. 1 overall during Saturday’s NBA G League draft by the Salt Lake City Stars.

“So, I still have that plain black coat in here so I’m going to make sure I bring a lot of sweatpants and hoodies, couple pairs of socks and make sure I bring my Timberland boots,” he added.

The 6-foot-11, 245-pound center says he’s ready to share his NBA wisdom with his new Stars teammates.

Reed is also familiar with members of the Utah Jazz organization, including assistant coach Alex Jensen, his college assistant coach at St. Louis, and Alec Burks, as natives of Missouri.

“I’m definitely excited. Alex Jensen was the coach for me in college (St. Louis) that really worked with the bigs every single day,” Reed said, during a conference call. “Coach (Rick) Majerus was hands on, but I spent a lot of time with Alex Jensen and I spent some time with him in the G League when he was down with Canton Charge.

“Just being around him, I think he helps me mentally, I think he knows what’s best for me,” he continued. “He’s been around me since I was 18 years old, so he really knows me and what I’ve grown to be, so that’ll be a very warming welcome and a very warming thing for me to go through as well as knowing Alec Burks being from the same city. I think that’ll help me as well.”

Reed has three years of NBA experience in Brooklyn, Miami, Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit. He averaged 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 152 career games. In 2015, he made the G League All-Star Team and was named All-NBA G League First Team.

“The first thing we like about him is that he’s the best player in the draft by far,” Stars coach Martin Schiller said of Reed. “It’s as simple as it gets. He’s an NBA player, for certain reasons is not in the NBA right now, and our job is to help him get back as quickly as possible.”

The Stars also drafted former St. Thomas Aquinas guard/forward Justin Reyes with the 28th overall pick and St. Joseph’s forward James Demery with the 35th overall pick in the draft.

Salt Lake City also acquired the returning player rights to former University of Utah center David Foster from the South Bay Lakers and the Lakers’ second-round selection in the 2019 NBA G League draft. In exchange, South Bay receives Salt Lake City’s first-round pick in the 2019 NBA G League draft.

The league signs about 100-plus players each year to join the pool of draft-eligible prospects. They include college players who went undrafted in the NBA draft, international prospects, and players who were recently waived by NBA teams following training camp. Players must be 18 years old to be eligible for the NBA G League draft.

G League training camp will start Monday before the Stars open the season Nov. 2 at Iowa. The Stars’ home opener is set for Nov. 6 against Texas in Vivint Arena at 7 p.m.

“I’m excited. I can’t even lie. I’m ready to get around the guys and get to work,” Reed said. “For me personally, I know I’ve always been the type of player that’s been in a role. This time around, I want to lead by example and work on becoming a leader. Try to lead these guys.”