ARDMORE, Pa.—With his MVP trophy and another 25-point performance in hand, Cameron Reddish put his head down as he fought through the crowds on his way to the locker room.
For the first time all season, Westtown School had lost in the state of Pennsylvania, falling 74-71 in overtime on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Camden High, southern New Jersey’s top-ranked side.
But even after a loss, there were plenty of young fans—several donning Duke jerseys and sweatshirts—waiting outside the locker rooms at Lower Merion High School, hoping to grab a quick photo with the nation’s No. 3 recruit. And although this has become a regular occurrence for Reddish, especially since committing to the Blue Devils, the 6-foot-7 forward knows there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“I just can’t wait to learn,” Reddish said. “I have so much to learn.... I knew where I wanted to go for a while, so it wasn’t that hard to make the decision.”
Offensively, Saturday was yet another effortless performance for the senior. He drained corner triple after corner triple before knocking down a 25-foot trey and finally canning one last 3-pointer with a defender’s hand no less than two inches from his face.
After one play when Reddish was fouled shooting beyond the arc—to the dismay of the pro-Camden crowd—he beckoned to the crowd, welcoming the boos coming from one corner of the gym.
If there was ever a sign that a young player is ready for the energy of Cameron Indoor Stadium and the bullseye that Duke often faces on the road, that was certainly it.
“I can’t wait to be in Cameron and play. It’s one of the greatest gyms in the world,” Reddish said. “Once you’ve had that experience, there’s nothing you can say to describe it. I know everyone’s going to be against us on the road, so we’re just going to have to stick together as a team to get as many wins as possible.”
But on the defensive end, there is still much to be desired.
Most of the game, Westtown played a 2-3 zone, putting Reddish on the outside down low with 6-foot-8 Indiana-bound classmate Jake Forrester manning the middle. If the ball swung to the side opposite Reddish, there was little movement from the soon-to-be Blue Devil. And if a Camden player drove down Reddish’s side, he barely left the ground—Reddish did not register a block all game despite being the second-tallest player on the floor.
Given Duke’s defensive struggles for much of the one-and-done era as well as Reddish’s desire to be a top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, things will need to improve quickly once he arrives in Durham.
“I think Cam’s defensive engagement has been great at times this year and I think it’s been okay at times this year,” Westtown head coach Seth Berger said. “That’s one of the last missing pieces for him to be a draft pick in 2019.... Defensive intensity, he probably needs to take care of the basketball a little bit more, but that’s about it.”
Of course, Reddish’s latest outing was overshadowed by the Saturday night addition of Zion Williamson, the No. 2 recruit in ESPN’s Class of 2018 rankings. Even just two hours from Williamson’s announcement, Reddish hadn’t the slightest clue where the Spartanburg, S.C., native would land.
Within minutes of the decision, though, he tweeted at his newest teammate, emphatically announcing, “LETS GET IT BOY!!”
Together, Reddish, Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones will make up arguably the most hyped recruiting class in Duke history, but the bonding between the Blue Devils’ next crop of freshmen has already begun.
“We all can’t wait,” Reddish said. “We talk literally every day. All day, every day, we talk.”
That group will have massive shoes to fill, regardless of how this year’s Duke team finishes the season. Grayson Allen will graduate. Marvin Bagley III will likely go in the top five of June’s NBA Draft, and Wendell Carter Jr. shouldn’t be too far behind him. Add in the potential departures of Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr., and head coach Mike Krzyzewski might have to replace his entire starting five come November.
But Reddish seems to relish the opportunity to be in the spotlight. At the mention of Krzyzewski’s name, you could see his eyes light up, knowing that soon enough he’ll be under the tutelage of college basketball’s winningest coach.
At just 17 years old, even Reddish knows there’s still room to grow.
“I’ve got to get in shape so I can play both ends of the court at a high level,” he said. “Obviously, I need to work on my body, that’s the main thing.... [But also] being a really good defender, a two-way player—I feel like if I can get that down, I’ll be good to go.”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak."