Former Baldwin High School boys basketball star turned University of Iowa Hawkeye Michael Reaves died Friday at the age of 54.
The hoops standout died of an undisclosed illness.
Rick Reaves, older brother to Michael, shared a little bit about his departed sibling while talking with The Union-Recorder Monday.
“My brother Mike would always brighten up your day,” Rick said. “He was solid and was one of the go-to persons in the family. He was always, always dependable and ready to lend a helping hand and do what he could to make a difference. Mike was the most compassionate, trustworthy, honest person you could ever meet.”
Michael Reaves was a part of Baldwin boys basketball during its golden age in the early- to mid-1980s, and he was often featured in The Union-Recorder sports pages throughout his time with the program. The 6-foot-3 guard was an All-State selection, Middle Georgia Player of the Year honoree, and the Braves’ leading scorer when they made a run to the Final Four in 1983.
“He was an outstanding student and an outstanding kid who really represented our program well,” said James Lunsford, Reaves’ high school head coach.
Reaves’ stellar play at the high school level earned him a scholarship to Iowa where other local student-athletes who had similar collegiate dreams followed the Baldwin alum’s playing career. Finishing up as a four-year Iowa letterman, Reaves’ name remains in the Hawkeye men’s basketball record book to this day. He shot 29-of-61 from the 3-point line his senior year, giving him the mark for best 3-point percentage by an Iowa senior. That occurred during the 1987-88 season when the Hawkeyes won a school-record 30 games while Reaves contributed 5.5 points per contest. Reaves was a winner 95 times throughout his Iowa career, a number the school says is the second-most in program history over a four-year span. The Hawkeyes made it to the NCAA Tournament every year the Milledgeville native was in Iowa City, including an Elite Eight run in 1987 and a Sweet 16 berth in ’88.
Michael Morgan was Reaves’ teammate and roommate all four years of college. Morgan joined others in saying that Reaves was just as good a person off the court as he was a player on it.
“Michael was the first person I met when I set foot on campus and we quickly became like brothers,” Morgan told University of Iowa Athletics. “Michael was a great teammate and a great person. The one thing that I will always remember about him was his infectious smile and laugh. He had the ability to brighten your day. He will be dearly missed.”
Baldwin High alum James Hartry, now the boys basketball coach at Tucker High School, was a couple of years ahead of Reaves in school but remembers him like a little brother.
“He grew up watching us and always wanted to be a basketball player,” Hartry said. “He was just a solid, good kid and person … Coming from Milledgeville in the ‘80s as a young black male and going to Iowa to play four years and get a degree — that’s class. That says a lot about a person, and that’s the kind of guy Mike was.”
After graduating from Iowa, Reaves returned home to Milledgeville to work at First Federal Bank. He eventually moved to Decatur, Ga. where he started his own trucking company, S&R Logistics. Although Reaves remained in Decatur, his brother Rick said Michael often made trips to Milledgeville to visit family, including his mother Mary Ann, and longtime friends.
Reaves died in his hometown Friday while surrounded by family. Funeral services are scheduled for noon Thursday at Freedom Church in Milledgeville before his body will be laid to rest in the Sons of Wisdom and Daughters of Light Society Cemetery, also in Milledgeville. Slater’s Funeral Home Inc. has charge of the arrangements.