It did not take long for the name Reggie Lynch to catch fire in Redbird Nation. Hailing from Edina, Minn., Lynch, a center for the Illinois State men’s basketball team, stands out not only on the court, but off the court as well.
With an afro that he says may add as many as two inches to his grand stature, Lynch’s hair-do and stand-out performances on the court have triggered Redbird fans to create Reggie Lynch Fatheads and coin the slogan “Fear the Fro,” all of which can be seen and heard at every ISU men’s basketball game.
“All these trends that are going around — like ‘Fear the Fro’ — I like them a lot,” Lynch said. “I’m 6’9 without the fro, but I might be even 6’11 with it. I’ve always had a little fro, but in eighth grade a lot of my teammates convinced me to grow it out and ever since I’ve had it big like this and I don’t really cut it down. This is my look now.”
For many, ISU head coach Dan Muller’s decision to place the business administration major in the Redbird starting-five lineup as a freshman came as no surprise. For Lynch however, the move was unprecedented.
“[College basketball] has been a lot more than I expected because I didn’t think I was going to be playing as much as I am,” he said. “I just wanted to fill some roles and do good for the team however coach wanted me to play, but he has me starting now and it’s really awesome.”
Standing as the tallest member of the ISU men’s basketball squad, Lynch fronts the Redbirds in field-goal percentage (.598) and blocks (53) while averaging 4.3 rebounds-per-game and 7.5 points.
“Going against JJ (John Jones) and Jamaal (Samuel) in practice … And adapting to how the older guys are playing these days — just playing against different types of players — has made me better,” Lynch said.
Coming from what he calls a “basketball family,” which includes his uncle Kevin Lynch who played in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets from 1991-93, Lynch’s love for basketball came naturally, but he remembers his talent and skill for the game as being something he had to work at.
“I started playing when I was about five years old, but I wasn’t that great when I was little,” Lynch said. “I was on the C-team or B-team and I finally made it to the A-team in eighth-grade (for travel ball). It was a growing process for me, but when I finally made the A-team I realized that playing a lot and adapting and working hard can take you really far.”
Being the “basketball family” they are, the Lynches lead their own, self-titled basketball camps for kids, headed by Reggie’s uncle Kevin.
“Out of my family he was the only one who made it to the NBA,” Reggie Lynch said. “He had us go to camps called “Lynch Family Basketball Camps” when we were little and I was in the camp from age five to age 12. Then I started running the camps and was able to teach little kids as well and make them better players.”
Kevin Lynch attended the Drake game in Des Moines, Iowa, to watch his nephew play and plans on attending the contest against the University of Northern Iowa as well.
Aside from growing and learning as both a basketball player and an individual, what Reggie Lynch enjoys most about college basketball so far is the fans.
“I just like playing in front of way more fans than I’m used to playing,” he said. “The high school gym that I played in is nothing compared to the arena that I’m playing in now. I just like the energy that the fans bring to the games.”
You can catch Reggie Lynch and the rest of the Redbird men’s basketball squad in action tonight as they take on Missouri Valley Conference rival UNI at Redbird Arena. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m.