Duke's Cam Reddish Declares for 2019 NBA Draft: 'This Season Was Epic'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2019

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 23:  Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on prior to the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome on February 23, 2019 in Syracuse, New York. Duke defeated Syracuse 75-65. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Duke Blue Devils star Cam Reddish is entering the 2019 NBA draft pool, he announced Thursday on Instagram.

"This season was epic, and I am so thankful to have had Duke as a part of the foundation that prepared me to play at the next level," he wrote. "Never forget – I am a Blue Devil for life. Proud to announce that I will be entering the 2019 NBA Draft."

Duke also released a short video with Reddish about his announcement on Twitter:

Reddish joined Duke with lofty expectations. He was the No. 1 small forward and No. 2 player overall in the 2018 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. He joined RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, who were the No. 1 and No. 5 players overall, respectively, and Tre Jones, who was No. 15.

Playing alongside Barrett and Williamson proved to be somewhat counterproductive for Reddish, though. Barrett solidified himself as a likely top-five pick, while Williamson was a walking highlight reel and the clear No. 1 player in the 2019 draft class.

Reddish was effectively the third scoring option for Duke, a far cry from the role he became accustomed to in high school and on the AAU circuit. Not surprisingly, his numbers suffered as a result.

In 36 appearances, he averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals. He also shot 35.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent on three-pointers. He was often reduced to spotting up from beyond the arc, finishing with a 61.8 percent three-point attempt rate, per Sports Reference.

The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks argued in December that Reddish's situation actually leaves him well suited for the jump to the NBA. Reddish is likely to have an off-ball role early in his pro career, so he won't have to make much of an adjustment.

Tjarks also highlighted the 6'8", 218-pounder's defensive potential:

"He has been a key cog on an elite defense as a freshman, benefiting from the ball pressure of Jones and Barrett to rack up a team-high steal rate of 4.7 percent. He uses his size to jump passing lanes and close gaps on the perimeter far quicker than opponents suspect. Most players as big as Reddish aren’t nearly as comfortable defending on the perimeter. His agility makes it easy to forget just how big he is. He has the size of many NCAA centers and he can comfortably switch onto point guards."

Reddish could've returned to Duke in the hope of establishing himself as the consensus No. 1 player in the 2020 draft. With Barrett having already declared and Williamson likely to follow suit, he'd become the go-to scorer in Durham.

The Pennsylvania native had little to gain in terms of his draft stock by taking that approach, though. He's likely to be a top-10 pick this summer and could move into the top five. Aside from the money, being the No. 1 selection isn't all that tangibly different from going a few picks later.

Getting to the NBA now rather than a year from now should start Reddish's development earlier. Although his game obviously has room for improvement, he should be able to hold his own against the level of competition he'll face at the next level.

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