Overshadowed Duke star says spotlight on Zion 'little bit unfair' | News Coverage from USA

Overshadowed Duke star says spotlight on Zion ‘little bit unfair’

CHICAGO — Zion Williamson was nowhere to be seen Thursday at the NBA draft combine, but he was there in spirit as his former Duke teammate Cam Reddish fielded a dozen questions from reporters about the type of splash the presumptive No. 1 pick will make in the league.

Reddish believes the national spotlight that followed college basketball’s national player of the year at Duke and in the lead-up to the June 20 NBA draft has been over-the-top.

“I do think it’s a little bit of unfair,” Reddish said. “But I think he’s more than capable of overcoming all that.”

At Tuesday’s draft lottery, Williamson tried to cool some of the hype by noting, “a lot of people see me as a superstar. I’m an 18/19-year-old rookie.”

Reddish said he knows Williamson differently than as a player who’s drawn LeBron James-level attention. Reddish said he’s a goofball.

“He already embarrassed himself enough at the (draft lottery),” Reddish joked. “I love Zion. He’s a phenomenal guy to be around. He’s all laughs and giggles. He’s super, super humble. He shouldn’t be. I enjoyed his presence.”

The New Orleans Pelicans, who earned the No. 1 draft pick, are expected to take Williamson. Duke teammate RJ Barrett – another no-show at Thursday’s combine – is projected to be drafted in the top three, while Reddish projects between Nos. 4-10.

Reddish quipped that he got the most of his former teammates in 1-on-1 battles at Duke practices.

“I got my fair share of wins,” Reddish said. “They were great teammates. I think it will go really well for all (three) of us. Both of those guys have a work ethic like no other. I wish them the best.”

Reddish, who has met with close to 10 teams including all the top brass of the Los Angeles Lakers, who have the No. 4 pick, was the first to commit to Duke before Barrett and Williamson followed in the 2018 recruitment class. Addressing the notion that he was overshadowed by those All-Americans, Reddish said: “It’s prepared me for what’s next.”

“It was different,” Reddish said of playing alongside Williamson and Barrett. “I’m not usually just a shooter. I’m used to playing more on the ball. I was a (point guard) in high school.”

Reddish averaged 13.5 points and shot 33 percent from beyond the arc for the Blue Devils in 2018-19 — statistics the 6-8 wing doesn’t believe mirror how good he can be. Although he was the key third option for Duke, his sample size didn’t show the potential of the player some scouts are forecasting as “the next Paul George.”

“I’m just trying to get back to who I can be, who I am,” Reddish said. “I feel like I can just do everything. … My personality is kind of reserved. So people might think I’m lazy. That’s nonsense. … I can do it all. I feel like I’m capable of doing it on both sides of the floor. Now I get an opportunity to show that.”

But will he be a better NBA player than Williamson and Barrett?

“I think so,” Reddish said.

Follow Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson

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