Cam Reddish has been waiting for this moment his entire life.
A five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, playing professional basketball was all Reddish had ever dreamed of. And after averaging 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 36 games at Duke, Reddish is now reminding himself that this is it.
That the journey he started when he was just a kid is finally nearing a turning point. That everything he has ever endured—from the illnesses and injuries that kept him out of starts at Duke to the questions and doubts surrounding his skill and love for the game—has brought him where he is today.
That on Thursday, June 20, at the 2019 NBA draft, Reddish will officially be in the NBA.
“I feel blessed to be at this point. It’s kind of surreal,” Reddish, 19, told Sports Illustrated. “I am excited to find out which team I will play for, and of course, I am feeling a little nervous, but I am just trying to focus on preparing for the next chapter in my career. I’m ready.”
Reddish, who is projected to be a top-10 pick, caught up with The Crossover to discuss the lessons he learned at Duke, how he has prepared for the NBA draft, and what he’s most looking forward to about going pro.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Alaa Abdeldaiem: If you had to make an elevator pitch to teams as to why they should draft you, what would it be?
Cam Reddish: I am guy who can do it all. I can shoot, defend, dribble and make plays. Not to mention, I am a team player who loves the game and wants to win. If you draft me, I will be the first one in the gym and the last one to leave because I just want to learn the game at this level and get better.
AA: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about your game heading into this year’s draft?
CR: Definitely that I have motor issues and I’m passive. I think people mistake the smoothness of my game to a lack of motor. It’s far from that—I’m just not a rah-rah guy. But I get excited like everyone else. And as far as being passive, that’s not true, either. I played the role I was given and just tried to adjust throughout this year, but I think it worked out the best for me because it really prepared me for the next level.
AA: You experienced a number of highs and lows—whether it was not putting up the stats you hoped you would in a given game or having to deal with injuries and illnesses—that have some doubting your love for the game. Why is that something you believe should go unquestioned?
CR: I certainly had some challenges this season, but I honestly feel like it was the best preparation for me. I went to Duke to grow and prepare for the NBA, and I did that. I got stronger by battling through adversity. Highs and lows are all a part of the game but it’s how I deal with each situation that should be how people judge my character. Everybody who knows me knows that I will be the first one in the gym and the last one to leave, so I don’t think it should be a question of whether or not I love the game. It’s everything to me.
AA: What do you feel like you learned throughout your time at Duke?
CR: I learned how to be mentally tough. Fighting through adversity whether that be an injury or learning how to compete and play with and against top talent—guys like Mo, Zion [Williamson] and RJ [Barrett] really prepared me for what’s to come at the next level.
AA: You had surgery on a core muscle injury. How do you feel now, physically? Are you confident you’ll be in the best shape health-wise to start the season?
CR: I chose to get the surgery so I could be in the best physical shape for my team. I am doing great so far. I was sore at first, but it is getting better every day. My doctor and team around me assured me that I will be even better than 100%, so I am excited and confident I will be ready for the season.
AA: How have you prepared for the NBA draft since leaving Duke? What are some things you have been focusing on to improve?
CR: Before surgery, I was working on my body, trying to get stronger. I am continuing to focus a lot on my diet, making sure my body gets the proper fuel. Now, I am rehabbing every day. I’m feeling great and getting ready to be back on the court.
AA: Was it overwhelming at all to play with Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett? How did you have to adjust your game while playing alongside them, and how do you feel that has prepared you for what’s to come in the NBA?
CR: No, it wasn’t overwhelming to play with Zion and RJ. They’re great players and even better people and friends. But I was used to playing with great players like Mo Bamba, Lonnie Walker and Brandon Randolph. We all have different skill sets. We also had different roles, so once we figured out how to best work together, it was history from there. I chose to go to Duke because I wanted to play with and against the best talent. I thought that would be the best way to prepare for the NBA. I think playing with them has given me an advantage because there will be great players on whatever team I get drafted to and I am ready to come in and play my game.
AA: What was your favorite memory from your time at Duke?
CR: Honestly, any time I was with the team: game winners, championships, those were all great because I got to experience it all with my team. It was truly a brotherhood at Duke and I know those friendships will be with me forever.
AA: In addition to it being about basketball, draft night lately has also featured a spotlight on draftees’ choice of fashion. How are you preparing your wardrobe for the big night?
CR: Typically, I’m a pretty laid-back guy when it comes to fashion. But for draft night, the biggest night of my career thus far, I wanted to do something special. I partnered with JCPenney and will be wearing a JF suit that I customized.
AA: Do you think you have what it takes to be the best dressed Duke star on draft night?
CR: I’m sure my brothers will look good, but I will look best. I’ve got something special in store for this that’ll make me stand out from the rest.
AA: What will your suit say about you? How will your personality be reflected in it?
CR: I was excited to work with JCPenney to make my suit special. They worked with me on personalizing the inside liner of my jacket. I wanted it to highlight the things that are most important to me outside of basketball, including my family and my faith.
AA: NBA players have grown to have a lot of secondary hobbies. LeBron has production companies. PJ Tucker is the sneaker king. Do you have any interests outside of basketball that might end up shining through during your time in the league? If so, what are they?
CR: Honestly, I don’t have other hobbies. Basketball has been my everything all my life. I am really close with my younger brother Aaron and my best friends. When I have free time, I like to spend it with them playing video games and relaxing.
AA: Once you are drafted, is there a potential matchup against any team or star that you’d be most excited about?
CR: I’m just excited to play in the NBA. It’s a dream come true. I haven’t thought about a particular matchup. There are so many good players in the league, and I’m looking forward to playing my game and getting wins with my team.
AA: Who is the NBA star that, when you were younger, you looked up to the most and loved to watch?
CR: KD for sure. I loved watching him when I was growing up and still to this day. He can do everything. He’s a fierce competitor, has great work ethic and is incredibly talented.
AA: What are you most ready to prove about yourself once you can take the court for an NBA team?
CR: Mainly that I’m more than just a shooter. I can do it all. I’ve got handles and am a great defender and team player. I can do a lot more with the ball in my hands. So, I am really excited about the opportunity to show people the other sides of my game.