Battle at the Rock “Final Thoughts”
To say the inaugural Battle at the Rock was a success would be a huge understatement. The partnership between Visit York County and Phenom Hoop Report pulled off one of the country’s best early season tournament. With a mixture of high profile teams like Oak Hill and IMG Academy and local and state high school powerhouses provided the fans in the area to some exciting and entertaining basketball. The event was held at Nation Ford High School and played before a capacity and sold out crowd on Saturday night. There were many storylines from the event where player resumes were enhanced. Now, let’s take a closer look at our final thoughts on this unbelievable first year event.
Gray Collegiate: The Epitome of a Team
To be perfectly honest, I’ve personally haven’t had many opportunities to watch Gray Collegiate coached by Dion Bethea. After watching them on opening day vs. Northwood Temple, we came away totally impressed. Gray Collegiate beat a very talented Northwood Temple by the score of 90-63 where a total of five player contributed heavily and scored in double digits. Reading from a Twitter post from Coach Bethea where he stated, “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, etc. ” After reading this post, this statement articulated what we saw from this well-balanced team. First of all, Gray Collegiate is what “teamwork” is all about. Five players on the court at one time working toward a common goal. They played as a team and won as a team. They were all unselfish and played for each other, but more importantly they have put team above everything else.
Northwood Temple: Not backing down from competition
Coach James Strong and Northwood Temple are currently 6-3. They have played in Phenom’s Carmel Classic Tip Off Classic, Phenom’s National High School Showcase, Hoops and Dreams and now the Battle at the Rock. Each event they’ve played against high level competition. Not too shabby for a small private 1A school in the NCISAA. Northwood Temple features the 1-2 scoring punch of Louisville signee Josh Nickelberry and rising star Jamahri Harvey. While some teams and coaches are hesitate about playing high level competition to protect their win/loss percentage, coach James Strong is only looking to have Northwood Temple play against strong teams so they can improve and get better for the NCISAA state championship run. Each tournament, each game has allowed Northwood Temple to play on the biggest stage and platform which will only prepare them for their long term goal. winning another NCISAA 1A State Championship.
South Carolina is loaded with talent
For the longest time, South Carolina was known as a football state. Football players played basketball after the season to stay in shape, right. Well, that may have been in the case many years ago, but South Carolina is becoming a powerhouse in terms of quality basketball players and thus may be the best kept secret in the country. That will no longer be the case! Last year, South Carolina had Zion Williamson (Duke), Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt), Jimmy Nichols (Providence), Sharone Wright Jr. (Wake Forest), Isaiah Moore (College of Charleston), and a host of others. This year is another star studded class headlined by 6’7 Tennessee signee Josiah James (Porter Gaud), Christian Brown (Oak Hill Academy), Deuce Dean (York Prep), Tommy Bruner (Gray Collegiate), Ta’lon Cooper (Dorman High School)
Northside Christian: Hitting their Stride
Coach Erasto Hatchett has a youthful and talented team. Naturally, there will a few bumps along the road. In the win over a very good Rock Hill team, Northside Christian seemed to put it all together. Leading the way is vastly underrated nationally 6’8 2020 Jaden Seymour. He already sports offers from NC State and Virgina Tech. That being said, Seymour has completely elevated his perimeter and overall game. Seymour is a walking “double double.” Next in line is 6’5 freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino. He is the floor general and will be in the conversation nationally as one of the better players in his perspective class. 6’2 Glenn Hubbard put his fingerprints on the season with a terrific two-way performance of 18 points and five steals. And to take it a step further, we can’t forget about the contributions of 6’6 Cortez Marion-Holmes. if the team can continue to build and develop chemistry and to play with a sense of urgency, Northside Christian could be one of the state’s “surprise” teams come tournament time in February.
Rock Hill High School’s 1-2 Punch
Rock Hill is certainly blessed with tremendous talent, but 6’4 2020 Saiveon Williams (no. 4) and 6’8 2020 MJ Wildy (no. 22) will anchor down a deadly 1-2 combination on both ends of the court. Both players are currently two of the better players in the South Carolina 2020 class and have a high ceiling at the next level. In the game vs. Northside Christian, Williams finished with 16 points going 8-13 from the floor, had eight rebounds and collected four steals. On the other hand, Wildy finished with 20 points going 6-14 for the floor, 3-8 from the 3-point line, 5-6 from the free throw line, not to mention grabbing a game high 12 rebounds.
Nation Ford High School: Under the Radar Seniors
First of all, Nation Ford High School is a very talented team. In their 82-51 win over Josiah James and Porter Gaud, it was the senior duo of 6’5 Shaman Alston (no. 11) and 6’0 Zeb Graham. Alston finished with 24 points going an impressive 9-11 from the floor, 6-6 from the free throw line, corralled three rebounds, dished out three assists and collected two steals. On the other hand, Graham finished with 20 points going 7-10 from the floor, 4-5 from the 3-point line, 2-2 from the free throw line. In addition, he had three assists and one steal. Overall, both seniors played extremely well and both are worthy of D1 interest and offers.
Dorman High School: Great talent, high character
Playing without star PJ Hall, Dorman played the country’s number two ranked team to a competitive game before falling 75-59. The final score doesn’t even begin to tell the story. First of all, Coach Thomas Ryan is an excellent bench coach. His teams play hard and together, but more importantly they pull and cheer for each other. 6’3 Morehead State signee Ta’lon Cooper was in beast mode and was not the least bit intimidated by the Warriors of Oak Hill. Cooper finished with 24 points going 8-15 from the floor, 3-7 from the 3-point line and 5-6 from the free throw line. We were impressed with his toughness and grit which was evident with all the players. We’ve watched a lot of games this season, but haven’t seen a team where the bench players were so involved in the game. They were all cheering and pulling for each other which is what team work is all about.
6’3 2019 Deuce Dean (York Prep) Sticking it out for his senior season
Anytime there is a coaching change at any level, parents and players “weigh” all their options. With a mass exodus from York Prep, head coach Larry Davis was left with very few carry overs from the previous season. One player decided to stick it out and that was Deuce Dean. In the game vs. Porter Gaud, Dean was simply terrific. He had a game high 31 points going 8-14 from the floor, 3-7 from the 3-point line, and 12-14 from the free throw line. He also collected seven rebounded and three steals. We’re talking about a steady and reliable point guard that makes winning plays. While he was the game leading scorer, he picked his spots extremely well and played well within the team structure. Dean is a high efficiency player that may not wow you with highlight dunks, but one thing is for certain. Deuce Dean is productive and makes his teammates better and that’s all you can ask from the point guard position. More importantly, we were more impressed with Deuce Dean the person. He has demonstrated excellent leadership on the court, but his decision to stay put told us more about him than any other statistic. Loyalty is rare and deciding to stick it out speaks volume about his character and toughness.
Be sure to read out previous articles on the Battle at the Rock
Coach Rick’s Fab Five Day One: https://www.phenomhoopreport.com/2018/12/01/coach-ricks-fab-5-battle-at-the-rock-day-1/
Coach Rick’s Fab Five Day Two: https://www.phenomhoopreport.com/2018/12/02/coach-ricks-fab-5-battle-at-the-rock-day-2/
Coach Rick’s Stock Risers: https://www.phenomhoopreport.com/2018/12/02/battle-at-the-rock-stock-risers/