By: Wake Hoops
There were over 20 players considered for an honorable mention spot, speaking to the simply incredible depth of the class. We cut that 20+ player list down to 12 honorable mentions, five of which are featured in this article.
6' Abdou Diop (Fuquay-Varina)
Diop is one of the more exciting crosses between production and potential as he was in the varsity rotation as a freshman and he hasn't really scratched the surface of his long-term development. He's a long and athletic wing that has plenty of room to fill out with both length and strength. Defensively, he's incredibly solid pretty much anywhere on the court thanks to his athleticism, motor, and instincts. On the offensive end, He's really strong getting downhill, able to capitalize on closeouts at a high rate. He's also shown some pretty interesting shot-making flashes, specifically with OTD jumpers. He's a surprisingly good passer for his position and it's a trait that will separate him from the pack later on in the recruiting process. He can be used at a variety of positions and that versatility can really help his stock as the ball skills continue to come around.
6'2' Trevor Manhertz (Green Level)
Manhertz has one of the highest ceilings in the 2026 class. Between his physical potential, feel for the game, and overall offensive ability, it's easy to see his long-term appeal as a prospect. He's a crafty passer, knockdown shooter, and surprisingly talented as a cutter. Positionally, he can operate well on or off the ball, fitting in well at the 1-3. The talent, IQ, and feel are in place for a high-level prospect and how well he matures physically will be the deciding factor for him long term. If he continues to grow as expected, it should be a pretty safe bet to account for the physical tools catching up to (and improving) his talented skillset. If Manhertz can produce and hold his own at the varsity level this winter, there's no reason why he won't crack the top 20 in the next update.
6'2' Itzhak Racmuth (Thales Apex)
Racmuth is a productive wing prospect with promising shooting indicators and solid size for his age and position. He's a capable handler, defender, and driver, on top of his polished scoring arsenal at his age. He plays bigger than his size, acting as a plus rebounder and able to guard forwards if necessary. With a handful of the Thales Apex rotation departing, you should expect to see Racmuth in a more expanded role, allowing us to see even more of him as an overall creation threat. Look for him to grow as a playmaker within an offense that will be desperate for a new lead guard after the graduation of Cannon Parker.
6'3' Blake Walker (Millbrook)
Walker is yet another in a long line of quality Millbrook prospects. He has great defensive instincts and uses his length well on that end of the floor to disrupt action. His feel for making plays is evident on that end of the floor. Offensively, he's shown growth since the high school season. He's becoming more and more comfortable attacking off the bounce and creating for himself. He's a reliable threat in transition and when attacking off closeouts, finishing at the rim at a higher and higher level with each viewing. The shot-making, specifically in regards to the mechanics and comfort level, has improved as well. It's unclear how much he will impact the varsity level this season due to Millbrook's deep, veteran-laden rotation, but his two-way upside brings a lot of intrigue regardless.
6'6' Lee Podger (Cary)
Podger is a smart and crafty forward prospect with unique upside. It's rare for young bigs to possess the amount of polish on the perimeter that Podger does, able to be a prominent shooting threat and attack a closeout when necessary. He's also a quick and creative passer, one of the top two or three at his size in this class. As what should be common knowledge by now, young forwards and bigs need more time adjusting to their bodies than their smaller counterparts. Because of this, the development curve for a player like Podger will be slower, but ultimately steeper, if (and when) everything begins to click. While it might take longer to materialize, based on his feel, shooting touch, and obvious physical tools, Podger is a safe bet for future development.