CLEMSON — Clemson knows exactly what to expect from redshirt junior guard Marcquise Reed.

On the outside, he is quiet — perhaps even a bit shy. With his head down, the leading scorer for the Tigers' basketball team doesn't say much when spoken to, preferring to keep to himself.

Occasionally he will joke around with senior forward Donte Grantham, but a personality assessment Reed took in July painted the picture of a college athlete who is more reserved than most. He rarely gets too excited or too anxious, he almost always manages to stay even-keeled and he appears to confront his emotions practically.

Nothing seems to faze Reed. And if there were ever a time the Tigers could benefit from following his example with a hefty dose of stoicism, that time would be now.

As the No. 5 seed Tigers head to San Diego for a matchup with No. 12 New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, potential distractions are everywhere.

The Tigers are in the big dance for the first time in seven years. They are traveling to one of the nation’s top tourist destinations. They are getting analyzed by all of the pundits — Charles Barkely predicts a Clemson loss.

But if Reed’s Clemson teammates take a page from his school of thought, none of that should matter. Reed has set an example of emotional consistency for two seasons now and that will not change this weekend.

“He doesn’t talk a lot, he’s not a guy who’s showy at all. I think he just kind of comes in and does his thing,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “He’s kind of like that as player because he will be quiet for 20 minutes and then all of a sudden, something will happen and he snaps and turns into this assassin making big shots.

“It takes a lot to get him upset. So if he gets upset, something’s happened … he’s not a guy that complains a lot or even talks that much. He’s just kind of a quiet guy.”

Behind that quiet but thoughtful external shell, Reed has led Clemson in scoring with 15.9 points a game. He's also averaging a sneaky 4.6 rebounds.

Reed seems to thrive on pressure. His time to shine comes late in games when one or two big plays makes the difference. That is when his ability to stay even-keeled is the best gift he offers and that is why when games are on the line, the ball is in his hands. When the Tigers need a big shot, more often than not he buries a 3 in traffic.

“You’re lucky if you have one or two (players like him) on your team,” Brownell said. “He certainly has made some big shots for us.”

Asked to describe what it means to him to lead Clemson into the NCAA Tournament as one of the conference’s best players, Reed said:

“Just to get congratulated for all my hard work feels really good.”

A man of a few words.

Follow Grace Raynor on Twitter @gmraynor

Grace is the Post and Courier's Clemson reporter. She graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in journalism.