A year ago, high school basketball star Cameron Reddish came to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado with the goal of making the Team USA U16 national squad.
Reddish didn’t make that team, but he did learn an important lesson.
“It shows you what your weaknesses are,” he told the Herald-Leader last week. “You can go home, work on what you saw at camp and come back with a different mindset and just be ready to go.
“I wasn’t physical enough. I wasn’t vocal, didn’t bring enough energy. I was laid back. But, this year, I came out with a lot of energy. I feel like I did pretty well.”
This year, Reddish was one of the top performers throughout the first few sessions of U17 training camp.
The 6-foot-8 wing player from Pennsylvania used his length — he has a 7-foot wingspan — and athleticism to his advantage. He shot the ball well from outside and did indeed show off a different level of energy on the court.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels is also a member of the USA Basketball developmental team committee, and he saw a big difference in Reddish’s game.
“He came back with a different mindset,” Daniels said. “He was more aggressive at times than he was last year, and he was just a flat-out better player than he was last year.”
Reddish more than proved himself as a worthy addition to a squad that included such top recruits as Wendell Carter, Kevin Knox and Gary Trent Jr., but, once again, his Team USA training camp ended in disappointment.
In the closing minutes of the second-to-last practice before the final cuts were made, Reddish hobbled off the floor in obvious pain, heading straight for the trainer’s room.
He was diagnosed with a sports hernia injury that would have kept him sidelined for the FIBA U17 world championships later this week in Spain, so the Team USA committee had no choice but to cut him for a second straight year.
Longtime Team USA developmental coach Don Showalter was so impressed with Reddish that he invited him to the first team meeting after final cuts were made, so he could tell the other players that Reddish would’ve made the squad if not for his injury.
There will be plenty of success in Reddish’s future to offset his Team USA disappointments.
He’s starting to show people how good of a player he is. The size, the length the athleticism. ... He has a really bright future.
Evan Daniels, Scout.com recruiting analyst
Scout.com ranks him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 2018, and he already has scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious college programs in the country, including Kentucky.
“He has really good size and length at the position,” Daniels said. “Cam has always been really gifted, and you’ve always seen the potential, but it took him a while to get to the productive part of that stage. And he’s getting there. He’s starting to show people how good of a player he is. The size, the length the athleticism. He’s a really good shooter off the catch. He has a really bright future.”
Reddish plays his high school ball alongside top-five recruit Mohamed Bamba at Westtown School (Pa.), and he’s a teammate of five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker on the Nike AAU circuit. Both of those players are a year older than Reddish, who still manages to stand out in a secondary role.
“Cam probably has as much upside as me,” said Bamba, a 7-footer ranked No. 2 in the class of 2017 by Scout.com. “He’s 6-8, pushing 6-9 and probably still growing. He has a true feel for the game. He’s becoming a point guard, right before our eyes. He’s just great.”
Reddish is averaging 15.2 points per game on the Nike circuit this spring.
Reddish has received offers from UK, Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova and Maryland, among others.
The UK offer came in late April during a phone conversation with John Calipari.
“It was a dream come true,” Reddish said. “It was a blessing. I was just speechless. I couldn’t even react to it. I couldn’t do anything but laugh. It was just like, ‘Wow.’”
Reddish said he plans to visit both UK and Duke this summer. He’ll also probably work out on nearby Villanova’s campus. He likes Coach Jay Wright’s program but said he has no early favorites.
UK is likely to be a major factor as Reddish gets more serious about that recruitment.
“I think about all the pros they make,” he said. “All their great history of winning championships. The almost-undefeated season and things like that. It’s obviously a great program, and it’s definitely a top priority for me.”