Whenever a player comes into college after being ranked the number 3 overall player as a recruit, and number 1 in his position, there are going to be some high expectations. Success with top ten recruits is never a given, but Cam Reddish is in a unique position given he arrived on Duke’s campus with both players that were ranked ahead of him according to most recruiting sites. This alone makes evaluating the Duke freshman difficult, and he has not made it any easier.
At the start of the year, Reddish looked like the third leg of the dominating tripod that Duke was anticipated to be. He played well against some of Duke’s early opponents showing that he was able to score, especially from the outside, which is what everyone would have predicted coming into the year. Then he hit his slump, starting with their game against Hartford in which Reddish shot 2 for 12 overall and 1 for 9 on 3 pointers. Next came the Yale game, where Reddish shot 4 for 12 overall and 0 for 5 on 3 pointers, and this level of play continued over the next 4 games. Suddenly, everyone was asking, is this who Cam Reddish is? Or is it just a slump? The question seemed to be answered in Duke’s game at Florida State where Zion Williamson went down with an eye injury, Reddish stepped up and took over the game, ultimately hitting the game winning 3 and finishing with 23 points. It is foolish to assume one game can make or break the evaluation of a player, but it appeared to at least indicate that Reddish was breaking out of his shooting slump.
Reddish missed the next game with an illness, then came back against Virginia, shooting 3-12 overall and 1-6 from deep. Since that point, he has played better but still not of the consistency scouts are looking for in a player to select in the top 5 of the draft. So the question remains, who is the real Cam Reddish? Unfortunately, we may not know until he gets to the NBA. There are multiple reasons for this such as the NBA game allows a more free flowing and spaced out offensive layout, but the main reason is simply how do you assess someone’s ability when they are playing alongside two of the best players in the college game, who are also offensive stars. To be fair, one could also argue that Reddish teaming up with Williamson and RJ Barrett has allowed scouts to see how he will play alongside other stars which is sure to happen in the league. Add all of this together, and you get one of the more perplexing evaluations in this draft class.
We believe the answer is somewhere in the middle of the “Reddish is a bust” thinking and the “Reddish is being overshadowed” logic. Playing with Williamson and Barrett has no doubt caused some people to forget about the other Duke freshman, but scouts are watching very closely game by game. Coming out of high school, Reddish was thought of as an athletic wing that had a smooth and efficient shooting stroke. This is still the case, but he just simply has not shot the ball well enough to alleviate the concerns that were brought to the forefront due to his slump earlier in the season. Usually playing with and alongside elite talent on a daily basis will help your progression as a player, but we have yet to see that often enough. There is no doubt that Reddish belongs in the top five conversation given his skill set and size, but at what point do you say he just is not the shooter he was billed to be? Many scouts believe free throw shooting is indicative of how efficient you can become as a shooter, as of today, Reddish is shooting 59 of 75 (78.7%) so that should be somewhat promising. If you want an example of just how difficult an evaluation he is, take a look at his last two games shooting wise. He shot 7-19 (4-14 from 3) against Louisville, and then 2-15 (1-7 from 3) against Virginia. Reddish will make a play or shot that makes you say “Oh ok, this is why he is a top five pick” and then when you take a look at the game in it’s entirety he just was not efficient.
Barrett is definitely a player that needs the ball in his hands, and always gets his shots up, which has effected the way Reddish has played. While we mentioned he was known as a shooter in high school, he obviously did much more given that he was the star. At Duke, he has essentially become a spot up shooter, which could be limiting his effectiveness and confidence. With Williamson continuing to dominate college basketball, he should not be viewed as too much of a detriment to Reddish’s shots, considering that Zion does not require the ball in his hands or shots to be effective like Barrett does. Simply put, Williamson should not be used as a reason why Reddish has struggled at times, but one could argue that Barrett can dominate the ball causing Reddish to at times take shots he normally would not, given the limited opportunities. Only time will tell whether this was the first sign of the Duke freshman not being worth a high selection, or whether will be unleashed on a team that does not feature much talent in the league.
No one can deny he has the athleticism and size required to play at the next level, and he has shown he can be a productive NBA player. This last stretch of the regular season and the NCAA tournament will be huge for Reddish. He has a more versatile game than his time at Duke has suggested, but he needs to shoot the ball better to help his stock. Much like his play this season, Reddish has been up and down in our mock draft’s and our prospect rankings. At this point he could go as high as 3 or 4, or he could slip to the back half of the top ten with another slump through the end of the season.