Thinking back, Cam Reddish may put down the summer of 2017 as the one when he met Kobe and LeBron and Steph and Durant. Or the year he played ball in Italy.
Or maybe he’ll think of riding a camel in Egypt.
“I was on a camel,” Reddish said. “It didn’t go anywhere.”
Sitting one recent evening with his parents and younger brother in his living room just outside Norristown, talking about his frenetic summer, including his recent commitment to Duke, the top area basketball prospect for the high school class of 2018 described being in the eye of a storm.
“This past summer was, like, crazy,” said Reddish, who was leaving for his senior year at Westtown School the next day. “These past two weeks, all I could do really was sleep. I’d wake up, go back to sleep. Eat, and go back to sleep.”
No complaints. He signed up for it all, including the camel. If you’re in Egypt representing USA Basketball at the world championships of your age group, makes sense you’re going to find yourself facing up with a camel.
“It was a lot taller than I expected,” Reddish said. “When it fully stood up, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ You stand up a little bit, and I thought it was done. The back legs had to stand up, too.”
In describing how busy things have been, sometimes a nod works as well as words. It seems as if elite high school basketball players can be on the court more months in a year than NBA players. That thought brought a silent nod from Cam’s father, Bob.
Dad played ball at Virginia Commonwealth and knows how the basketball landscape has changed in a generation. And his son qualifies as elite even among the elites. Reddish has future high NBA lottery written all over his all-tools game and 6-foot-7 frame.
This month, Reddish legitimized what he’d been feeling for months and committed to Duke. That’s been part of his busy year. Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari (who coached him in Egypt) and Jay Wright all sat in this living room, in the corner chair where Cam sat as he talked about his year.
“After this,” Reddish said, “from now on, there’s like no breaks. School season, from there it’s McDonald’s and Jordan Brand …”
Yes, Reddish has all-star games penciled into his schedule. Doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.
“Then it’s college,” he said the night before he was headed back to Westtown. “No break, starting tomorrow.”
It wasn’t the recruiting that was so crazy, Cam said. It was the rest of it. He isn’t complaining. He signed up for it. Reddish was spotted leaving a coffee shop in Los Angeles after meeting last month with LeBron James (and LeBron’s agent). Nothing illegal about it — just maybe shows what everyone thinks about his future.
“Cam had the pleasure of meeting several players while in L.A. for the Nike Skills Camp, and LeBron was one of them,” said his mother, Zanthia. “It was an incredible and amazing experience.”
It’s not just Nike, even though he played for the Nike-affiliated Team Final. Adidas also had him to an event this summer in New York, and he toured Italy in June with an Adidas-sponsored team.
Later, Reddish played at Steph Curry’s SC30 camp in San Francisco. (We won’t point out to the other shoe companies this was an Under Armour event). Reddish listened to Kobe Bryant offer advice at a Nike Skills Academy in California — “He didn’t want to be friends with anybody. He talked about things he would go back and change, like pushing his players more in practice.” Kevin Durant and others were there to talk, too. “A lot of knowledge people don’t get at this age,” Reddish said.
How many states has Cam shot a basketball in over the last year?
“For Westtown, I was in Florida, Delaware, Jersey, Massachusetts,” Reddish said.
Westtown had a breathtaking squad last year, with Mo Bamba now gone to Texas and Brandon Randolph to Arizona and Anthony Ochefu to Stony Brook. Practices, Reddish said, were when you saw everyone’s competitiveness really come out, just non-stop battles that he cherished.
That was just the start of his busy year. For Team Final, where was he? “Vegas, Cali, Georgia, Virginia, Indiana. I think that’s it.”
For USA Basketball, there was Colorado, plus Egypt. For Nike, there was Santa Barbara. He skipped a Nike trip to Aruba — “I was somewhere else.”
They were in California like four times this year, his father said. “Like in the last four months,’’ his mother said.
Cam pointed out he had gone to New York “for Adidas.” … “Like an NBA Jams type video,” his father said.
Then a more recent trip up there: “His representative from Nike invited him to pick two other players to go up to New York and play against other three-on-three teams,” his mother said. “That was just a few weeks ago.”
If they’re remembering everything, that’s a dozen states plus the two foreign countries. Still to come, another USA Basketball mini-camp in Colorado in October. You don’t complain about being selected to represent your country in an international competition. You do suffer the pain of a defeat to Canada at the U-19 World Championships. You don’t realize you’ll end up in Dulles Airport after a flight from Egypt through Germany, with no way to get to Augusta, Ga., for your important Peach Jam game because your late-night flight just got canceled.
“Something happened in the airport, so there were no flights going out that night,” Reddish said. “I was sitting there for like hours, hoping my flight would come back.”
Since his parents had gotten delayed on their separate flight, his grandfather saved the night by driving two and a half hours down from Norristown, and brought him back to Philly to get a flight from here. He got home about 3 or 4 in the morning, had a 10 a.m. flight.
“I washed clothes — took a nap — woke back up, put it in the dryer,” Reddish said. “Woke up again, threw it in a bag.”
To review: The commute was Cairo to Frankfurt to Washington to Philadelphia to Charlotte to Augusta. Reddish got to the game and scored 44 points — yes, 44 (although brother Aaron insists it was actually 46) — but Team Final went down in the Peach Jam play-in game, a tough, tough loss. At that point, Team Final would go to sort of a consolation tournament sponsored by Nike close by in South Carolina.
“That night, my husband and I had talked — Cameron really wasn’t part of the discussion — Bob and I had talked,” Zanthia Reddish said. “You know what, he needs to take a break.”
Not an easy decision. It just turned out to be the right one, they said. Their son had hit a wall. “His body was just worn down,” his mother said.
Little things he has done over the course of the year to try to rest and relax? Listening to Rick Ross was a favorite for that. “Not super-hyped,” he said.
For all his breathtaking skills, Reddish isn’t claiming to be a finished basketball product. He works with a personal trainer, Pooh Evans, older brother of NBA guard Tyreke Evans. Asked what he needs to improve on, Reddish immediately said his motor and his defense. He could get away with gliding a bit during high school games, he said, but knows that won’t be true at the next level.
Acknowledging that he has never seen a player as busy as Reddish was this summer, his Team Final coach, Aaron Burt, said the talent is something else. It’s not that the game has come too easily for Reddish as much as his skills all showed up early. He hasput in the work.
“Cameron can make a shot with his left hand, going around his back, sitting from halfcourt,” Burt said. “Now, he has to focus and hone in. If he does that, this kid can be one of the best to ever play the game of basketball.”
Keeping away from the court also only went so far. Zanthia Reddish, a Norristown High graduate, is an elementary school principal in the Methacton School District. Her son, who went to the Haverford School as a freshman before transferring to Westtown, can get in there to shoot around. She was surprised to see him show up in recent days.
Their driveway wasn’t a current option. The rim was gone. There was a backboard, and the court itself was well worn, paint thinning. No rim?
Cam’s brother Aaron, starting his freshman year at Westtown, identified himself as the culprit. This summer, Aaron went up for a dunk, the rim came off. “Boom,” Aaron said.
“That basketball court has been through a lot,” their mother said. “When we built this home, that’s one of the first things we did, was put a basketball court in. The house wasn’t even settled, in 2004. And so it began.”