By Norm Elrod
(CBS Philadelphia/CBS Local) — Cam Reddish is quite possibly a top-five NBA Draft prospect, even while being the third-best player on his own team. The Duke Blue Devils, when healthy, start four freshman, including the likely future number one pick, Zion Williamson, and last year’s top high school recruit, R.J. Bennett. While sometimes overshadowed at Duke, Reddish should not be underestimated going into the ACC Conference Tournament and the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Like his teammates, Reddish was a five-star recruit coming out of the Westtown School in suburban Philadelphia. Already the size of a prototypical NBA small forward — 6’7″ and 210 pounds, with 7’1″ wingspan — he put up 22.6 points per game in his senior year while pulling down 5.6 rebounds. Reddish actually played a lot of point guard in high school as well, and showed himself to be an adept dribbler and passer, who could create for teammates, among them Mohamed Bamba, now at Texas, and Brandon Randolph, now at Arizona.
The accolades followed, including McDonald’s All-American and Mr. Pennsylvania Basketball. And the top college basketball programs — including Connecticut, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Villanova — came calling. Reddish chose Duke for his one-year pit stop, becoming part of one of the better recruiting classes for any school in a generation.
Reddish has had an up-and-down season with Mike Krzyzewski’s squad in Durham. Languishing behind a Williamson and Bennett, he is averaging 14.3 points per game, while shooting 36.5 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. None of those stats are ideal for a prototypical 3-and-D swingman, with his eyes on the NBA. Another knock against Reddish is that he sometimes disappears, or, more generally, that he lacks the energy needed to be a team leader. A glance at his point totals over the course of the season reveals quite a few single-digit scoring outings, even while playing over 30 minutes.
Reddish has still played up to his potential at key moments. One of those moments came when he scored the team’s last five points in the final moments of Duke’s 23-point comeback win over Louisville. The other was his buzzer-beating three-pointer to top Florida State on the road. And with Williamson not on the floor, Reddish has picked up some of the slack. Even factoring in his recent disappearance against Syracuse, he’s averaging 17 points per game. And that includes his 27-point outburst against North Carolina after Williamson went down.
For all the hand-wringing over his freshman-year performance so far, Reddish is still growing as a player. He’s the only Duke player opposing defenses have to respect at the three-point line. It may be his role on this team, but he can do far more. And it’s this versatility and potential that keep him in the NBA Lottery conversation. It also makes him a threat to explode come tournament time, when the spotlight will shine a little brighter.