The Phenom Hoop Report was in full force this past Saturday to cover the Dave Telep Carolina Challenge. My counterpart Ryan Mattocks was covering gym one while I was covering action in gym two. We wanted to get a thorough evaluation by watching entire contests to get the most complete player summary as possible and I believe we achieved just that. We will divide our report into two parts, but today we will look at the top 25 performers of the day based upon performance.
11. Player: 6’6 Greg McClinton
School: Winston-Salem Prep
Evaluation: Along with Hicks, McClinton showed some of the most ‘wow factor’ at this year’s Carolina Challenge with his athleticism. He has an extra gear that many of the greats seem to – a gear that you know when you see. That said, the issue with McClinton to this point has been more about effort than anything specific to his game. Luckily for us, Saturday was a day he seemed into it and the crowd was allowed to see a little of what he can do – including throw down a nasty alley-oop from half court. He looks the part and it’ll be interesting to see how he comes along over the next year. Showed range out to the three point line. Improved upper body strength and incorporating ball fakes, jab steps, etc. to free himself are areas for the phenomenal athlete to work on.
12. Player: 5’8 Julius Barnes
Hometown: Garner, NC
Evaluation: The let the 5’8 fool you, this kid is a player. Arguably the quickest guard at the event, Barnes uses his low center of gravity to his advantage by punishing opponents with his physicality. He showed range out to the stripe and was almost impossible for people to keep out of the lane. A tenacious competitor, his size did not hinder his production at all. In fact, a one-handed put back in traffic reminded onlookers of Nate Robinson. Defending larger guards and getting his shot in the half court are the glaring worries for Barnes when thinking about the next level, but he’s got three years to grow. We may not even be having this conversation next year.
13. Player: 6’1 Kendrick Flomo
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
School: North Forsyth
Evaluation: Squared up on the jumper beautifully – ten toes to the rim no matter where on the court he caught the ball. Unselfish in the open court and seemed to make the winning play every exchange. Versatile kid in that he’s an above average ball handler and aggressive going to the tin – not just a shooter. With a couple more inches he could potentially fill one of three roles on the offensive end for his college coach. I’d like to see more of his first-step in the half court, but that’s nitpicky at this point. He showed patience and unpredictably with staggered, crab dribbles and had defenders off-balance.
14. Player: JaQuel Richmond
Hometown: High Point, NC
Evaluation: Overall, Richmond did not shine the way I anticipated he would – but even the little things can make all the difference sometimes. For instance, the elite athleticism I’ve seen from JR in the past may not have been front and center in the game I took in at the DTCC, but he did have a pump fake, 2 hard dribbles to the elbow pull-up that was memorable – and not because he made it. I don’t even know if he made the shot to be honest because I was watching his feet the whole time. He got up so high on the jumper and his feet landed in the exact same spot he took off from – it was perfection from a coach’s perspective. Otherwise, Richmond excelled in the open court and served up a 60-ft. pitch ahead that had the crowd rocking. Kid’s a player.
15. Player: Josh Newkirk
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
School: Word of God
Evaluation: Deceptively long for 6’2, Newkirk has athleticism not often found in a guard his size as well. He ran the floor extremely hard on Saturday and was just as effective in the half court. Driving into the teeth of the ‘D’ at will, Newkirk was able to get off runners or pull-ups whenever he wanted. An unselfish guard, he often made the right play by kicking it out to open teammates when the defense collapsed). His long arms and motor could make for a monster on the defensive end at the next level.
16. Player: T. J. Evans
Hometown: Apex, NC
Evaluation: The lefty dynamo put up big numbers in the Tri-9 this season and proved worthy of his DTCC invite and then some on Saturday. Displaying an accurate stroke from deep, Evans is unquestionably best off the bounce and attacking the rim in the half court. His body control is at an elite level and he finished through contact enough on the day to rack up an impressive 12.7 PPG in three games on the day (t-8th highest at the event). High major offers seem to be on the horizon for the sophomore – but his game has a long way to go. Tightening up the handle with the right hand in order to finish with it in traffic and being more vocal are areas for improvement. Excellent young prospect.
17. Player: 6’7 Gary Clark
Hometown: Clayton, NC
Evaluation: One of those guys that’s not an above the rim player, but not below the rim either – Clark has a little above average athleticism (for a 6’7 high major player, that is) and, thus, may immediately pass the eye test for the casual fan. But upon closer inspection, Clark has a little bit of everything in his floor game and has two years to improve. For instance, he showed a high bball IQ by reversing the basketball from the top of the key at times and made a pinpoint high-low feed to 6’9 Tony Nunn for an easy deuce in a game on the main court. Complemented Theo Pinson on the court nicely as each deferred to the hot hand at the appropriate times. Honing his vast array of half-hooks, bank shots, and midrange shots is next for the young prospect. Defending elite SFs should be prioritized as well – although HS rosters sometimes dictate guys Clark’s size staying in the post on defense.
18. Player: 6’7 Caleb Martin
Hometown: Mocksville, NC
School: Davie County
Evaluation: I’ll go ahead and say it: I think the twins playing together all the time are hurting their overall development. These are the kinds of kids that can literally play all 5 positions in HS with their size and ball skills yet they both manage to blend in an awful lot, at least when I’ve seen them. That said, Caleb defended Tyrek Coger on the block admirably in their matchup on Saturday. Giving up 55 pounds and being out of position, Martin displayed more lower body strength and scrap in that one assignment than I’ve ever seen from him. Also drilled a 17’ jumper off of one dribble, which is a big improvement in his game. Instead of wasting 6-12 dribbles sizing a man up yet going nowhere with the basketball, Martin put it on the deck quickly (dribbling with a purpose), hit his mark, and converted the shot. The size/athleticism is undeniable – they’ll be a nice pair somewhere in a big conference. Just wish twins could split up sometimes.
19. Player: 6’5 B.J. Gladden
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
School: Kennedy Charter
Evaluation: It’s arguable that Gladden belongs higher on the list, but I can only rate guys on what I actually witness them do – and for Gladden that was one game. In the lone game I witnessed, Gladden drilled a 3 from the free throw line extended off the catch and bulled his way into the lane for easy looks regularly. His handle is above average and he’s one of those players that’s really tough to match up against. Much like 2011 DTCC standout T.J. Warren, Gladden can score in a variety of ways because of his size and skill set. In order to ascend to the top of the 2014 rankings, Gladden will need to focus on conditioning and defending smaller wing players with a speed advantage.
20. Player: 6’4 Ricky Council
Hometown: Durham, NC
Evaluation: The Northern Durham star is one of those 6’4 guys that are really 6’7. He’s so long that the number doesn’t matter – he could comfortably play the SF spot in college. Council finished through contact at this year’s event – something we didn’t see much of last year. Of course, the beautiful shooting touch is still there. Ball handling has improved but still needs some work and his intensity-meter could be ratcheted a notch. High major prospect.
21. Player: Ri’an Holland
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
School: South View
Evaluation: Holland’s one of those guys who’s so hard to include at the top of lists sometimes because he’s so small. The kid weighs 140 pounds for crying out loud. Doesn’t matter. His jumper was dialed in all day long (Holland put up double-digit scoring efforts in all 3 games and finished the camp 6th in PPG at 13.7). The pink shoed assassin hit trifectas from every imaginable spot on the court. Importantly, they were all good shots and he never forced anything in the games I took in. A shooter that dangerous simply cannot be left off the list.
22. Player: 6’5 Brandon Ingram
Hometown: Kinston, NC
Evaluation: One of the most intriguing prospects at the event for me personally, the lanky freshman was not intimidated by his surroundings/competition and was effective on the court. In the first of two games I saw the shooting guard play; he spun into the lane and threw up a beautiful half-hook over a taller defender. Later in the day he connected on a couple deep jumpers and showed no hesitation in pulling the trigger on a 25’ jumper off the catch in transition. It was a terrible shot and one that a coach would cringe at 100 xs out of 100, but it was also one that makes a coach smile when he realizes it was taken by a kid who’s two years younger than everybody else out there. And a kid who thinks he can make it.
23. Player: 6’7 Cody Martin
Hometown: Mocksville, NC
School: Davie County
Evaluation: The other half of the Martin twin duo impressed at this year’s DTCC as well. Improvements immediately noticeable in Cody’s game were his aggressiveness in getting to the tin and possibly an even higher level of athleticism than his brother (*something different – oh, the horror). Cody’s dunk on somebody in transition was the “Oh ****!” moment of the day and it wasn’t close. He got so high that I didn’t even think to see who he dunked on. If Caleb can do that, I’d love to see it. They’re both really good. High major prospect.
24. Player: 6’6 Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez
Hometown: Forest City
School: Thomas Jefferson
Evaluation: Averaging double-digits for the event (11.0 PPG), the sophomore established himself as a name to remember in the state of North Carolina. With improved foot speed and intensity on the defensive end, the sharpshooting Waldroup-Rodriguez may cause D1 coaches from all over to come see what the buzz is about. Those who do make it down south will find a very skilled SF who plays at a tempo that cannot be sped up (doesn’t get rattled) and a guy who can do a little bit of everything.
25. Player: 6’7 TJ Williams
Evaluation: Williams has one of the highest bball IQs for an undersized post player I’ve ever seen in a high school prospect. The 6’7 PF is unselfish, looks to set screens for teammates, dives for loose balls, and just makes winning plays. His lack of elite athleticism coupled with his size will probably keep him out of high major contention, but a Big South program looking for a guy to contribute in 2-3 years once he learns the system should take notice. Nice touch around the rim and an excellent communicator – always good for the backline of a defense.
26. Player: 6’9 Tony Nunn
Evaluation: The 6’9 bruiser certainly has a motor – it just isn’t ready to run for long stretches at this point. Nunn went full-speed for much of the time he was out there – going 94’ for rebounds of missed shots in transition – but once the gas ran out, he was all but done. Better conditioning may be the missing link for this intriguing back-to-the-basket player as his active playing style could lead to major production in the right program down the line.