In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 2 overall recruit, Duke’s Cam Reddish (You can view all of the profiles to date here).
What he means for Duke’s recruiting class
Cam Reddish is the second highest-rated player in the class of 2018—and he’s another Blue Devil. The 6’8” wing is the third of our four five-star, top-25 recruits to join Duke in Durham. The small forward from Norristown, Penn., comes in at 218 pounds and headlines Duke’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class alongside shooting guard R.J. Barrett (No. 1 in the RSCI rankings), power forward Zion Williamson (No. 4), and Tre Jones (No. 13). Four-star small forward Joey Baker (No. 37) caps off the class for Coach K.
How he fits
Reddish is a highly-heralded but under-hyped wing for Duke. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks on the Nike EYBL Circuit in 2017 and had a stellar senior season before he was sidelined for the summer due to a groin injury. While Duke didn’t get to see Reddish during the team’s Canada tour, they should know what to expect from this talented freshman. He’s a standout shooter with a natural knack for finding the basket who should thrive on the wing of a skilled playmaker like Tre Jones. With fellow freshman R.J. Barrett playing alongside Reddish, Duke will have the most talented two-three duo in the country. Reddish’s experience playing point guard in high school has made him into an effortless distributor who can create offense seemingly without breaking a sweat. He maneuvers around the court with little resistance and has a versatility that will be a huge asset for Duke. He’s excellent at balancing when to score and when to facilitate and has a quickness and a reach that give him the ability to potentially guard any position. He’s a tremendously talented overall player who can adapt to playing wherever Coach K needs him, giving him the type of positionless potential that will make him one of the most enticing draft prospects of 2019.
Reddish and Barrett can easily combine to replace the production lost with the departure of shooting guard Grayson Allen, who averaged 15.5 points for Duke from the perimeter last season, although Barrett, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2018, can’t even match the amount of sheer raw talent that Reddish has. With a little work on his consistency and a few lessons from Coach K on how to carry oneself on a collegiate court, the Blue Devils will have one of the most talented offensive players in the country on the floor for them this season. Duke has to replace all of last season’s Elite Eight starters, and a healthy Cam Reddish in the lineup would be huge for making up for the lost points without 2017–18’s best shooters. Zion Williamson is a one-of-a-kind weapon, Barrett will get big-time buckets, Jones will lead an efficient offense, and Reddish will help bring it all together, helping to both make plays and get points for Duke. While his positioning may be unclear, his potential is certainly not.
Importance to Duke's success/team outlook
Reddish may currently lack the kind of maturity that comes with experience, which is something the young Duke team will need this season, but his talent will hopefully make up for that. Although the Blue Devils have more incoming talent than any other team in the country, their inexperience could be an issue. Reddish is a large reason for all the hype surrounding this team ahead of its season opener against Kentucky, and his potential combined with R.J. Barrett and the rest of the recruits means the team should be a serious contender both in the ACC and nationally. Despite a lineup that will likely feature all new faces this fall, Duke might be even more formidable this season than last.