In Part 4, we look at five players who are all very close to making real noise on the statewide scene.
The current rankings can be found at the links below.
(11) 6'7' Jake Cackovic (Holly Springs)
Cackovic is a big, strong, and mobile forward that shoots it as well as most anyone on this list. His shooting mechanics are as pure as you'll find and he's virtually automatic off the catch. He has a strong, solid frame that allows him to match up well with forwards and bigs inside. He's a strong screener who understands when to roll and when to pop. He has soft hands and is reliable when catching and finishing through traffic. Cackovic understands how to impact the game without constantly needing the ball, creating a kind of quiet consistency in his game. He does all the little things that impact winning and is more than willing to sacrifice individual accolades for team success. He already has a clear-cut role at the next level as a floor-spacing forward and there's still plenty of room for him to grow as a ball handler and shot creator. With a lot of shots opening up at Holly Springs this coming year, look for Cackovic to step into an expanded role and play with the ball in his hands more than he ever has before.
(12) 6'3' Chance Gladden (Ravenscroft)
Gladden is a dynamic combo guard that plays with an obviously high feel for the game. He has an obviously high feel for the game, evidenced by his ability to make advanced passing reads and his ability to manipulate defenses with his pace. He's a confident shot creator with clean mechanics and enough length to get his shot off against heavy contests. Gladden is a strong driver that does a great job at adjusting and reacting when cut off in traffic. He has an array of finishing moves that he’s comfortable using at the end of drives. He has a smooth and crafty handle and it's rare to see him affected by defensive pressure. His passing is creative, and he can create advantages out of seemingly thin air. He had a ridiculous stat line last year at Cary Academy with averages of 20p/5r/4a on efficient shooting and he should see similar success this year at Ravenscroft.
(13) 6'3' Zion Wells (Jordan)
Wells is a lanky wing prospect that's a well-rounded scoring threat while also possessing good defensive upside. He shoots the ball at a high clip and has great touch on floaters and finishes around the rim. He's smooth on drives, gets to his spots, and handles pressure well. He plays well without the ball, attacking closeouts at a high rate and creating space with opportunistic cuts. Wells has a solid feel for the game and can make simple passing reads with consistency. His playstyle allows him to seamlessly fit into any offense, giving him a valuable floor when projecting to the next level. His defensive production is something we'll be watching closely this winter as the tools are there for him to have a big impact on that side of the ball. His length and IQ will make him a problem for most guards he'll match up with and it'll be interesting to see how much havoc he can create.
(14) 6'9' Najai Hines (South Garner)
Hines has made as big a leap as anyone in the triangle over the past 12 months. He already has next-level size and strength as he's a legit 6'9' with a monster frame. His motor on the glass and defensively stands out and allows him to be a productive piece in every matchup, regardless of if he's scoring it well or not. He's the best rebounder in this class, playing with great instincts and a relentlessness that is rarely matched. He has good touch around the basket and is comfortable finishing through contact, taking awkward floaters, or scoring over either shoulder. He has an obvious rim protection ability thanks to his mobility and size. He times up shots well and opponents actively try to finish through him less over the course of a game. He's shown flashes of ball handling, with a lot of it showcased in transition as he has more space to show off his creativity and skill. All the tools are there for Hines to be an elite impact player over the next two years and this ranking is banking on those tools to come together and produce this season.
(15) 6'4' Yasir Hall (Middle Creek)
Hall is a long and athletic wing that's comfortable scoring on or off the ball. He's a fascinating prospect as he has all the makings of a prototypical college wing and he's shown some real flashes over the past two years. Hall's shot-making is what immediately stands out. He's very comfortable taking and making difficult mid-range jumpers and has a variety of dribble moves that can get him to these spots. It's a mature skill that most wings his age hasn't reached yet. He's also a gifted passer that, when he wants to, can be a real creation threat. Thanks to his length, smooth handle, and vision, he's able to attract multiple defenders and make passes that shorter guards simply aren't capable of making. He's a solid finisher through contact and gets to the free-throw line at a high rate. Hall has all the tools, and if it all comes together with consistency and efficiency this season, we could be looking at a prospect that jumps into a whole new tier.