COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cameron Reddish left the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Tuesday feeling frustrated and dissatisfied for the second consecutive year shortly after learning he was not among the 12 players selected to the USA Basketball U-17 men’s national team.
A year ago, Reddish was among the final cuts, and being eliminated on the doorstep of achieving a dream of representing his country stung. But it was nothing like the sour ache he felt this time around when coaches emerged from a meeting to inform him and five other finalists that they would not be among the 12 players who will travel to Spain later this month to compete in the World Championships.
What made Tuesday especially difficult for the No. 2 small forward in the Class of 2018 was the knowledge that he would have been on the final roster if not for a sports hernia injury suffered in the waning moments of practice Monday night, less than 24 hours before the final group was chosen.
“I can’t even put it into words how frustrated I am,” said Reddish from the Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.). “It’s definitely devastating. I can’t even explain it. It’s just so frustrating.”
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Team USA head coach Don Showalter was almost as disappointed in having to cut Reddish from the roster as Reddish was to hear the news. He even took the unusual step of bringing Reddish into the first meeting of the official 12-member team to let the other players know Reddish would have been among their ranks if not for being hurt so late in the process with the competition set to begin June 23.
“He was in our top-12 this time,” Showalter said. “There is no doubt. He was in our top-16 last time and we didn’t keep him, but Cameron has really improved his game. He’s 6-8, has a great outside shot and he was probably the most impressive in camp of anybody, I thought.
“I want him to feel like he was a part of the guys who were picked, because, really, he was. I wanted the other guys to understand, too, that Cameron was there and he would have been one of their teammates.”
Reddish, the son of former VCU star Robert Reddish, almost couldn’t bring himself to talk about the outcome of his second trip out west to compete in the U-17 training camp and the injury.
“I came here and showed a lot of energy, played really good defense and my shot started falling,” said Reddish, who is ranked as the No. 7 player overall by the 247Sports Composite rankings and has offers from Kentucky, Duke, Auburn, USC, Villanova and Syracuse among others. “It seemed like my all-around game starting coming along.”
Reddish said he does not believe the injury is not significant enough to keep him off the court for an extended period. He said he expects to be healthy for the Nike Peach Jam tournament in early July in North Augusta, S.C., but that might be optimistic.
Suffering an injury and not making the team because of it put an end to an otherwise sterling spring for Reddish, who averaged 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists for Team Final (Pa.) during the EYBL regular season.
The prospect of an exciting future in the sport that likely will include another opportunity to earn a spot on the national team next summer was hard to think about Tuesday with the injury and the difficult end to this year’s training camp still so fresh.
Reddish said he comes from a family rooted in faith and he knows his parents would tell him to pray for guidance in how to handle the frustration of another near-miss. He said that is what he planned to do.
“It has been a great experience,” Reddish said. “I played pretty well in my opinion. I came out with a different mindset than last year, just doing everything, being aggressive, being vocal.
“As of now, I’m just like, ‘I’m done. I don’t even want to play.’ I’m just so frustrated. But I will definitely be back next year, hopefully.”