USA Basketball training camp hasn’t been the most cheery place for Cameron Reddish in the past.
Two summers ago, Reddish — now one of the most highly touted high school recruits in the country — came here to try out for the Team USA U16 squad. He didn’t make the cut.
Last summer, Reddish was back in town for U17 training camp. Though he was a year younger than many of the players at that event — such as UK’s Kevin Knox, and Duke signees Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr. — Reddish was one of the camp standouts.
Unfortunately, he suffered a sports hernia injury the day before the final cuts were made. Reddish wasn’t expected to recover in time to practice and play with the U17 squad, so the USA Basketball committee had no choice but to cut him again.
But team officials didn’t want him to leave town completely let down.
Team USA Coach Don Showalter brought the young player into the meeting room with the 12 guys who made the U17 squad and announced to them that Reddish would’ve been on the team had he not been injured.
“I wanted him to know that he was good enough to play at that level, and I wanted the other players to know that he was good enough to play at that level,” Showalter said. “With Cameron, he felt so bad about not being able to make it. And I wanted to make sure that he knew that he would have made the team.”
Reddish said his peers gave him a round of applause at that meeting, and it all made him feel a little better about his situation.
“It was a great feeling. I appreciated him doing that,” Reddish said. “I was really frustrated the day of. It took about a week to get over it. I was fine after a week, but I was upset at first.”
Once he moved on from the disappointment, Reddish started using it as more motivation for his basketball future.
I think that’s one thing you look for: Does he compete? He competes. ... He’s the type of kid that just hates to lose.
Don Showalter, Team USA basketball coach
The 6-foot-7 wing from Norristown, Pa., was back in Colorado Springs this past week for his third try at making a Team USA roster. This time, he made it. Reddish will join UK freshmen Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington and nine other players on John Calipari’s U19 squad that will play in the World Cup in Egypt from July 1-9.
Calipari, who has made Reddish one of his top recruiting targets in the class of 2018, made a “woo” noise when asked about his game this week.
“Kid can play every position,” the UK coach said. “He’s skilled, and he sees it. He’s good.”
That’s what Showalter saw in Reddish last summer, and the coach noticed even more progress when he watched him play on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring.
“He’s just so versatile,” Showalter said. “For as big as he is, he can play point guard, he can play the wing. When you play international competition, you like those kids that can play two or three different positions. And he can play anywhere ‘1’ through ‘4’.
“He can guard, too. I think that’s one thing you look for: Does he compete? He competes. You like that aspect of his game. He’s the type of kid that just hates to lose.”
Scout.com’s Evan Daniels has seen the same thing, too. That website now ranks Reddish — one of the top scorers on the Nike circuit — as the No. 4 prospect in the 2018 class.
“He’s always had the physical gifts, in terms of size, athleticism, length and fluidity,” Daniels said. “But he’s started to play a little more aggressive. I think the knock on him had always been not always playing hard and being aggressive. I think he’s starting to get better in that area, and that’s a big deal.”
Reddish recently cut his recruiting list to eight schools: UK, Duke, Villanova, Arizona, Maryland, Miami, UCLA and UConn. He told the Herald-Leader that he plans to cut his list to five (maybe six) schools after the Nike season ends next month, and he’ll start taking his five official visits at the beginning of his senior year.
He added that he would “probably” be ready to announce a college decision in 2017, but he didn’t want to put a specific timetable on that.
“I don’t want to drag it out. I want to get it over with and enjoy my senior year. … At the end of the day, I’ll take my visits. Pray about it. See where that takes us.”
FIBA U19 World Cup
When: July 1-9
Where: Cairo, Egypt
First U.S. game: July 1 vs. Iran at 11:30 a.m. EDT