LEXINGTON, Ky. — Cameron Reddish recently cut his list to five schools and the top-5 overall recruit in the Class of 2018 told Rivals.com that his commitment is likely coming “sooner than people are expecting.” So what does that mean for Kentucky basketball?
“I think they have a great shot,” said Aaron Burt, head coach of Reddish’s Nike AAU squad, Team Final. “They have a great environment, great coaching, and I feel like Kentucky is a great opportunity for him. So they have a great shot at him.”
Reddish, a 6-foot-8 small forward ranked No. 4 nationally in the 247Sports Composite, trimmed his options to Connecticut, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Villanova on July 31. The 247 Crystal Ball still favors the Blue Devils — 93 percent of predictions have Reddish going to Duke — but he told SEC Country this summer they’re “absolutely not” his leader.
Reddish said that via phone from Egypt, where he was starting for UK coach John Calipari’s under-19 Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. Calipari gushed over Reddish, saying he could play every position on the floor, and the 5-star recruit backed up the hype: 21.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.4 steals per 40 minutes while making 13 of 24 shots from 3-point range.
The Wildcats’ coach challenged him and Reddish rose to meet it.
“Cal is a very demanding coach — a very loving coach, too — and I think Cameron got a read on the type of commitment that goes into competing at that level,” Burt said.
Reddish told SEC Country in July that he appreciated the way Calipari pushed him and that the experience “definitely helped” Kentucky’s chances of landing a commitment. High school ball has become boring, his AAU coach said, because he’s so much better than the competition.
He is a player who thrives on a challenge and knows that’s exactly what he would get playing for Calipari and alongside other elite talent in Lexington.
“At this point in a player’s career, it’s not about what he wants but what he needs, and I think to get the maximum potential out of Cameron, he needs to be pushed and pulled and tugged to get his juices flowing,” Burt said. “He could be one of the best players ever to touch a basketball if the buttons are pushed the right way. It’s very hard to challenge him at this level, so I think he got a lot of good things out of playing with Cal and going to Egypt. He’s ready for a new challenge.”
With all the reclassification in high school basketball lately — Marvin Bagley, No. 1 recruit in 2018, just moved to 2017 and enrolled at Duke, while R.J. Barrett, No. 1 in 2019, moved to 2018 — it’s worth noting that Burt doesn’t think Reddish could pull that off at this point. But he does have a big choice to make soon.
“I know he has his sights set on taking a couple of visits and making a decision,” Burt said. “He’s kind of narrowing it down. He wants to make a good choice, but he doesn’t want to prolong it. I think it will be in the fall. Knowing Cameron and being around him the last five years, he’s probably drained. He’s not an attention-seeker. He just wants to be a kid, wants to get it over soon and focus on family, friends and basketball.”
One of those friends is AAU teammate Louis King, another 5-star small forward in the Class of 2018 who played for Calipari and Team USA. Unlike Reddish, he does not have a scholarship offer from Kentucky and spent all summer trying to earn one. But that seems increasingly unlikely.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to happen,” Burt said, “but Louis will be an asset to any program he goes to. He’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever been around. If it’s not in the numbers for him to get the offer from Kentucky, whoever wants and gets him, they’re going to get a guy who competes every possession and will do anything to win.”