DimeMag

Meet The Lakers Rookie Nicknamed ‘Hillbilly Kobe’

One of the fun things about media days around the NBA is young players get the opportunity to introduce themselves to the general public. It’ll occasionally lead to fun moments like what happened on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, when basketball fans learned that one of the undrafted free agents signed by the Lakers has a nickname that’ll surely appeal him to the L.A. faithful.

Austin Reaves, who had a productive collegiate career at two schools, was asked how he got the nickname “Hillbilly Kobe.” As he tells it, he earned it after he joined Oklahoma from Wichita State, when one of the team’s managers bestowed it upon him.

“My first year at Oklahoma, we had a GA named Anthony Rini,” Reaves said. “He came up to me one day and was like, ‘I figured it out,’ and I was like, ‘What’re you even talkin’ about?’ And he was like ‘HBK,’ and I was like, ‘What?’ and he was like, ‘Hillbilly Kobe.’”

He went on to explain that one of his teammates heard it and it managed to just follow him around for the rest of his time at Norman. As for which part of nickname better applies to him, Reaves said it’s a 50/50 thing — while not a hillbilly, he grew up on a farm in Arkansas, and he was a Kobe fan growing up.

Reaves was a first-team All-Big 12 selection during his final year at Oklahoma, averaging 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 34.5 minutes per game for the Sooners. While he went undrafted, the team recently signed him to a standard contract after signing a two-way deal prior to Summer League.

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