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Former Robert Morris player Marcquise Reed will lead Clemson vs. Pitt | TribLIVE.com
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Former Robert Morris player Marcquise Reed will lead Clemson vs. Pitt

Jerry DiPaola
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Clemson’s Marcquise Reed, a former Robert Morris player, drives against N.C. State’s Braxton Beverly during the second half in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.

Four years later, Andy Toole doesn’t begrudge Marcquise Reed.

“While he was here, he put his all into our program,” Robert Morris’ coach said of Clemson’s 6-foot-3 senior guard.

Yet, there are wistful thoughts that occasionally cross Toole’s mind.

“I would have loved to have coached him for four years,” he said. “I was hopeful.”

Sadly for Toole and Robert Morris, it was not to be.

Reed, who transferred from Robert Morris to Clemson in 2015 after the Colonials’ most recent NCAA appearance, will lead the Tigers against Pitt on Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum. It’s a 9 p.m. tip on ESPNU, so Toole might be finished with his own work by then as he tries to keep the Colonials (12-9, 7-1) in first place in the Northeast Conference.

A basketball fan nearly as much as he’s coach, Toole said he watches Clemson games “casually.”

He doesn’t need a reminder Reed could help any team with his talent.

“He’s up there with the most talented guys we’ve coached,” said Toole, who has been at Robert Morris since 2007 as either a coach or assistant. “I thought he would be very good for us. I didn’t know he would be as good as he was.”

In his first and only season at Robert Morris, Reed averaged 15.1 points. In two NCAA Tournament games that season, he scored 19 points in an 81-77 victory against North Florida and 22 in an 85-56 loss to No. 1 seed Duke.

“He’ a 6-3 guy who has incredible touch, can get wherever he wants to go on the floor,” Toole said. “He was an incredible shot maker. He didn’t always take good shots, but he made shots. His efficiency was incredible.

“He’s the kind of kid who plays at his own pace, a unique pace, he doesn’t get sped up.”

What most amazed Toole about Reed is he did all that as a freshman when he was “still figuring some stuff out, still learning how to be a college player.”

When Reed came to Toole with his plans to transfer, the coach with the Ivy League education from Penn let his mind race.

“Initially, I was figuring out how we could keep him, and how we could help him get to where he wanted to get to in the game,” he said. “I brainstormed with him some ideas that would help him get recognition and exposure.”

He suggested getting Reed involved with USA Basketball and working as a counselor at summer camps sponsored by sneaker companies. There, he could connect with some of college basketball’s top players and “create a name for himself,” Toole said.

Ultimately, Clemson and the ACC could offer Reed what the NEC and Robert Morris could not.

“That was the stage he wanted to try and play on,” he said. “There were people in his corner who had him out as soon as he started playing well here.”

Today, Reed is the fourth-leading scorer in the ACC (19.3 points), with a game made complete by his rebounding (5.6), assists (3.3) and steals (2.1).

Reed helped Clemson reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last year, scoring a total of 44 points in three tournament games, including a 79-68 victory against New Mexico State and guard Sidy N’Dir, now a reserve at Pitt.

Clemson (11-8, 1-5) is struggling this season, losing five of its past six games. The toughest might have been against N.C. State on Saturday when Reed, an 85.4 percent career free throw shooter at Clemson, missed four foul shots — two with 13 seconds left and two more six seconds later — in a 69-67 loss.

On Tuesday night, Reed will be Pitt (12-8, 2-5) and coach Jeff Capel’s problem in a game that will push the loser closer to last place in the ACC.

“He’s a really, really confident offensive player,” Capel said. “Brad (Clemson coach Brownell) puts him in positions where he can be instinctual offensively. We have to have an awareness for him to try to make catches difficult, try to shrink the floor when he has it.|

“We know he’s going to score. Our hope is to not allow him to be efficient while he’s scoring.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.