Lakers rookie Austin Reaves explains why his nickname is ‘Hillbilly Kobe’

Rookie Austin Reaves, a.k.a. Hillbilly Kobe, speaks to reporters during Lakers media day Tuesday in El Segundo.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

The Lakers had the real Kobe Bryant on their roster for 20 years.

Now they’re starting Year 1 with the player known as “Hillbilly Kobe.”

Ladies and gentleman, meet undrafted rookie Austin Reaves, who was asked about the nickname Tuesday during a Lakers media day session with reporters.

“My first year at Oklahoma we had a [graduate assistant], he came up to me one day and was like, ‘I figured it out,” Reaves said in his Southern drawl.


“And I was like, ‘Uh, what are you even talking about?’

“And he was like, ‘HBK.’

“And I was like, ‘What?’

The Lakers have signed guard Austin Reaves to a two-year contract. Reaves averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists with Oklahoma last year.

Sept. 26, 2021

“And he was like, ‘Hillbilly Kobe.’

“And I was like [shaking head], ‘Aw, whatever,’ and then one of the teammates heard it and it just stuck.

“So for three years that’s what they said around, I mean, just like Oklahoma and I guess people caught wind of it elsewhere.

“But, I mean, it is what it is, you know, I just move forward from it.”

Reaves later was asked if he’s more hillbilly or more Kobe.

Lakers media day has started this morning at their training center in El Segundo. Join Dan Woike and Broderick Turner for updates.

Sept. 28, 2021

“Man, I don’t even know,” said Reaves, who added that he grew up on a farm in Arkansas. “We’ll go 50-50.”

Reaves signed a two-year contract with the Lakers earlier this week, beating out a host of veterans for the roster spot. The first year is partially guaranteed with a team option for the second, The Times’ Dan Woike reported Sunday.


Reaves averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a senior with the Sooners. The Lakers signed him to play with their team in the Las Vegas Summer League and gave him a two-way contract before signing him to the two-year deal.

Told of his new teammate’s nickname during his own session with reporters, Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker responded, “Seriously?” and then laughed for several seconds.