HOUSTON -- Villanova has Larry Brown to thank for Darryl Reynolds.
Reynolds, a Lower Merion graduate, is one of only three Philadelphia-area guys on Villanova’s roster, along with Neshaminy’s Ryan Arcidiacono and Mykal Bridges of Great Valley.
And there’s a curious story how he became a Wildcat.
“We got involved with him late,” coach Jay Wright said. “We saw him in high school. Funny story. Lower Merion played Chester at Villanova for the district championship.
“Larry Brown was with us back then. We were sitting watching the game together. There were all these great players, the lefty that went to Arizona, Rondae Jefferson was in the game. Larry Brown said, ‘I like that guy.’
“He pointed to Darryl Reynolds. ‘I just like that guy's body.’
“I said, ‘Yeah, you're right.’”
Reynolds, an athletic 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, wasn’t a superstar at Lower Merion. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.2 blocks his senior year for a team that reached the state championship game.
“We kind of looked into him,” Wright said. “They said he's going to prep school. From that point we started following him in prep school.”
Reynolds spent a year at Worcester (Mass.) Academy before signing with Villanova.
“It was just the best fit,” Reynolds said. “It was the best fit by far. I came to Villanova because of the values and tradition of the program. Being home is a bonus. The things coach instills in the players means a lot.”
He didn’t play a lot his first two years — 66 minutes as a freshman, 145 minutes last year.
But he’s been a key sub off the bench for Wright this year. Despite playing just 17½ minutes per game, he’s third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 66 percent from the field.
Reynolds showed what he's capable of by averaging 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds and shooting 76 percent from the field during a mid-season stretch against Creighton, Providence and DePaul, with Ochefu out with a concussion.
“He is a great teammate, really intelligent in terms of how he approached his career,” Wright said. “He's a really good player right now. He's just playing behind Daniel Ochefu. He's going to be a really good player for us next year.
“He's a classic example. If you're intelligent, you work hard, you're patient, your time will come. I couldn't be happier for anybody on our team.”
Reynolds has been valuable in the NCAA Tournament, with 17 points, 16 rebounds and a couple blocks despite not playing more than 16 minutes in any of the four games.
In the Miami win, he had eight points and five rebounds in just 15 minutes.
Against bigger opponents, Wright has started using Reynolds and Ochefu playing together lately instead of just using Reynolds to spell Ochefu a few minutes a game.
“We wanted to do that from day one,” Wright said. “We actually tried it in the Virginia game a little bit when we played at Virginia. Then when Daniel was sick and injured, there was some of the games we were playing him three, four minutes, getting what we could out of him, then playing Darryl.
“But at this time of year, when you play against these bigger teams that have great offensive rebounders, that's what I like about the tournament — having both of them. They're both smart enough offensively. Darryl makes free throws, he doesn't turn the ball over, he shoots a high percentage.
“He just started to do that halfway through this year. He's just developed. A lot of his development comes from playing against Daniel every day. Against these better rebounding teams like Oklahoma, we like doing that.”