When it comes to rocking the rims with highlight film dunks, few in the area have ever done it like Whittier senior Justin Reyes.
The 6-2 1/2, 175-pounder from Haverhill says he can almost touch the top of the square on the backboard, which is 11 feet, 6 inches.
That seems about right judging by his high-wire act in a win over Greater Lawrence Tech in December.
He and Whittier are flying high with a 12-2 record heading into the weekend.
With a 20.5-points-a-game scoring average, Reyes is a strong contender for the area scoring title.
He’d be the first Wildcat to do it since Vic Jones averaged an amazing 30.7 points in 1978. No Whittier player has averaged more than 20 points since Seth Dobson in 1994.
In this week’s Around the Horn, Reyes talked about his prodigious leaping ability, the season and his football debut this fall.
How many dunks do you have this year? “Around 10.”
When did you dunk for the first time? “Junior year I got a dunk vs. Lynn Tech. I first was able to dunk between sophomore and junior years.”
What are your emotions when you are about to throw one down? “The first thing that pops in my mind is I’m going to miss! It gives me a lot of energy to play harder.”
What’s your best dunk? “A one-hander and I bring it back far ... my whole arm extended behind my head.”
Why didn’t you play your freshman year? “I had a broken foot from playing basketball at the Haverhill Boys and Girls Club. So I wasn’t able to go out. I was just an average player then.”
How did you improve so much? “I was just very motivated to become a better player.”
What’s your vertical leap? “I can touch almost the top of the box on the backboard.”
How did you happen to play football for the first time in the fall? “Coach (Kevin) Bradley convinced me. He’s a very convincing guy! I wanted my senior year to be good. I thought why not. I had never played organized football.”
Were you afraid of getting hit? “I viewed it as getting me ready for basketball. The first time I got hit it was more excitement.”
You caught 22 passes for 456 yards and six touchdowns. Some people think you have more potential in football. Would you consider playing football in college? “I want to play basketball in college.”
Have you always lived in the area? “I was born in New York City. I moved to Haverhill when I was 11.”
What are you studying at Whittier? “Culinary arts.”
What’s your favorite athletic achievement? “ABA camp at Merrimack College. That’s something that brought me a lot of motivation. I went last summer and the summer before.”
With your leaping ability, do you do track? “I tried last year to do the high jump but just for a couple practices.”
Do you work? “I work in the cafeteria at Whittier doing mostly prep work.”
Are you from an athletic family? “My dad, Julio Reyes, played basketball.”
Was he good? “From the stories he tells me.”
Do you believe them? “Some of them!”
Your coach, Tom Sipsey, says you’re averaging about 15 rebounds a game. What’s the key to rebounding? “Having the mindset on making sure you are going to get it.”
Who’s your dream date? “Megan Fox.”
What is the most embarrassing song you have in your iPod? “Just a Friend by Biz Markie.”
If you were named principal, what’s the first thing you’d do? “Longer lunch periods.”
Group or singer: J. Cole
Song: Dollar and a Dream
Actor-actress: Will Smith
Movie: Pursuit of Happyness
Athlete: Dwyane Wade
Car: Black BMW
Restaurant: Olive Garden
Teacher: My English teacher Mr. (Christopher) Cunningham