Major Shoe-Circuit Powerhouses Faceoff
Naturally, this is going to be one of the biggest subplots of the entire event, with programs like Team Charlotte, Team CP3, Team Felton, and Team United all suiting up for battle. There will be a lot of buzz surrounding the 17U division, where each of these teams should be competing for bragging rights to the Hoop State’s deep pipeline.
Led by one of the most motivational coaches across the country in Jeff McInnis, Team Charlotte has quickly bounced back into relevance after revamping their roster. Guys like TJ Bickerstaff, AJ McKee, Chico Carter Jr., DeAngelo Epps, Matt Smith, Myles Pierre and Donovan Gregory are at the forefront to represent this team, though their roster goes nine to ten deep with strong prospects.
Their biggest cross-circuit rival is Team CP3, a squad that recently went head-to-head against Team Charlotte at our Phenom’s Champion Showcase, albeit without their star-wing Wendell Moore. The two went to overtime and battled through an absolute bloodbath of a contest, with CP3 ending up as the victor. Fast forward a few weeks, and Moore rejoins the Langley twins, Antavion Collum, BJ Mack, Isaiah Wilkins, and Rico Williams for what should be an incredible week of basketball.
As for Team Felton, they’ve got an intriguing mix of guys right now, since Joey Baker, Au’Diese Toney, and Jaylen Richard all made moves for college. That being said, this group is very fun to watch, especially now that guard Jackson Gammons is beginning to finally break out of his shell. Their star duo of Greg Gantt and Silas Mason should draw a sizable crowd, given their excitement and athleticism on the hardwood. That statement is equally true for Emmanuel Izunabor and Williams Onyeodi, who are likely candidates to put opponents on a poster. Add in quality contributions from KJ Marshall and Michael Fowler, and this team is worth a watch.
Last but not least, Team United has grown leaps and bounds over the last year, through trials and tragedy, but now they’ve brought together something special. Between Juwan Gary and Patrick Williams, this team is not strapped for star-power. Team United enjoyed their best season in a long time, and that’s in large part due to the unselfish nature of this team. They should be as challenging as any of the aforementioned three programs throughout this week.
But Will They Be De-Throned?
Obviously there is a ton of buzz surrounding the big-name teams mentioned above, and appropriately so, as they’ve been the epicenter of national recruiting for quite a while. However, there will be numerous high-level teams in attendance that do not belong to the EYBL, Gold Gauntlet, or UAA, but that doesn’t necessarily have much correlation with the talent level in this case.
One can make a legitimate argument that Josiah James will be the best prospect on display and he has always played with TMP Elite. Alongside the 6-foot-7 guard will be Trae Hannibal, who recently committed to the University of South Carolina. Add in Ishan White, who is about as intriguing as they come, given his measurements, physique, and ability to cause headache for opponents, and this team is going to battle with anyone.
We even wrote earlier about how Caleb Mills is one of the hottest prospects in the country and this PSB Elite squad isn’t afraid of any program with Mills at the helm. Gavin Rains is going to be another prospect to watch on this team, as he could emerge as a must-have prospect for a variety of schools. Sim Frazier has done a strong job of collecting and coaching this group, and they should collect offers throughout the week.
The trio of Ball4Lyfe, Team Denver, and Mooresville Magic are going into this event as underrated squads compared to their opponents, but they know they have the players to compete. Ball4Lyfe, like TMP Elite, will showcase multiple prospects that should generate buzz amongst college coaches. Ben Lubarsky has the potential to shut the gym down, but only those in attendance can truly know his capabilities.
Team Denver was one of the most exciting squads at Summer Havoc. They feature Bryson Childress, Jackson Gabriel, Jehlon Johnson, Levontae Knox and Jalen O’Neal as their primary options, with guys like Cody Cline, Savieon Falls, and Nalik Vealsey providing huge roles as well. Add in some high-level coaching by Bobby Lutz, and this team is going to be interesting to watch battle the best in the region.
The Mooresville Magic join Team Denver as the only other Adidas-Silver program to be in attendance, but they are as strong as anyone when they fire on all cylinders. The backcourt pairing of Zane Haglan and Demarcus Johnson have been on this team for a long time, and they know how to conduct this group towards success. The Elliot brothers, though very different as prospects, each provide a unique wrinkle to this team. Elton Hooper works incredibly hard as a defensive-minded player, which can also be said for guard Caleb McReed. Like the aforementioned Team Denver, this group is well coached and will be a team to watch heading into tomorrow.
Recently, Hoop State Elite emerged, forming two separate teams, both very intriguing and just beginning to harness their potential. Hoop State Elite – Rexrode is a group of prospects in the Class of 2020 (and lone senior Jason Thompson) that plays up in the 17U division on a regular basis. They haven’t been overly successful thus far in July, but there is a lot of reason to be optimistic, since Josiah Shackleford seems ready to breakout and start dominating soon. When guards Manny Alvarado, Jordan Lynch, and Landon Sutton can consistently stop the point of attack, this group is difficult to beat. Aymeric Toussaint is a quality prospect, but he just needs to string together some extended stretches of strong two-way play. Chazz Banks and Kaleb Brooks also have the potential to swing a game, especially if they can efficiently score like they’ve previously shown. Finally, Zach Shumate is the definition of hard work and will make opponents want to quit due to his relentlessness on defense and the glass.
Meanwhile, Hoop State Elite 2020 is a 16U squad with Callin Randolph, Luke Stankavage, Jefferson Boaz, and Justus Shelton as the focal points of this squad. That being said, Josh Hall, James Freeman, CJ Plantin, and Quincy Smith have all carved out foreseeable roles as well, and should be as vital as anyone on this team.
Just because Phenom’s Summer Havoc has passed, doesn’t mean we have to forget about Team ENC 252 and WBC Elite, who will also be front and center throughout this week at our JMAC Showcase and CP3 Live events. Team ENC 252 was one of the most exciting teams on display during our past week in Spartanburg, featuring a star-studded duo of Luke Davis and Shykeim Phillips. They also saw consistent contributions from Akram Ben Salah on offense throughout the event and their overall coaching was nothing short of impeccable. If anyone is looking for a likely candidate to see offers come their way, Team ENC 252 is a strong nominee. As is WBC Elite, who has an incredibly fun, high-flying team. They are led by Jajuan Carr and Jace McKenney on a game-to-game basis, but this squad is littered with downright dogs. Look at guys like Freddie Taylor and the hard-nosed workhorses that form their frontcourt and one should prepare for a battle.
Another duo of programs that deserve mentioning is Mid-State Magic and NC Red Storm, since they have continued to be relevant throughout these past few years with no real connection to stardom, just strong coaching and player development. Mid-State has been led by Trey Cousin for quite some time, and he’ll be at the helm again with guys like Jamal Walden and TJ Nesmith also creating havoc. They always find a way to compete, regardless if they are outmatched on paper. The same goes for the NC Red Storm, who will feature Darkari Johnson, an intriguing wing prospect surrounded by solid talent at every position. This is the same program that showcased Dravon Mangum and Ody Oguama just one year ago, and the pairing absolutely blew up at this exact time.
Anyone who enjoys basketball should do themselves a favor and travel to Greensboro, North Carolina at some point between Wednesday and Sunday to watch some of the best in the country go to work. We will be at four different venues throughout the various days: Ben L. Smith High School, Dudley High School, Greensboro Day School, and Proehlific Park. Check out our website for further details and schedules, but expect to see some high-level competition going down in the heart of the Hoop State.