This past weekend, Phenom Hoops returned to the Rise Indoor Facility for our second Live period of the spring season. The three-day event featured a ton of notable teams, players, and standout performers. With various levels of college coaches in attendance, plenty of guys earned interest and offers, and naturally boosted their individual stocks as a direct result. Although the recruiting landscape is drastically different than what we've grown to know, coaches are still looking to pursue high school prospects. There were a lot of memorable competitors on display, but we will take a closer look at five specific names. Let's dive in'
6'7 '23 Kahlif Barnes (New Light Disciples)
Look, it probably feels like somewhat of a broken record, but Kahlif Barnes absolutely needs to be more of a priority for scholarship-holding coaches. We've talked about the strong, explosive 6-foot-7 post prospect on countless occasions, but it's difficult to ignore everything he's doing on a week-to-week basis. There is considerable value in a player understanding and embracing their identity, which is something that Barnes accepts as well as any player in the state. He can score, but doesn't require many touches to apply offensive pressure. Barnes can effortlessly notch a points-rebounds double-double without ever needing a set ran for him. Sure, this group prioritizes getting him the ball with position and/or a mismatch on the block (where he capitalizes at a high percentage), but he could legitimately tally twenty points every showing through simply running the floor and pursuing offensive rebounds. Barnes is truly as low-maintenance as they come. He remains among the top two-way rebounders in the state, offering an incredible blend of motor, toughness, physicality, and sheer nose for the ball. Barnes outworks and outmuscles seemingly everyone in his pathway. He consistently runs the floor, finishes above the rim or through contact, and can comfortably attack opposing bigs off the bounce. Barnes is simply the type of guy who naturally contributes to winning games.
6'7 '23 Sergej Cvetkovic (Team EAT)
Anyone who has monitored this team over the last month should already know about the pure dominance being asserted from Sergej Cvetkovic. Regardless of opponent or individual matchup, he's been nothing short of spectacular since the start of the travel ball season. At 6-foot-7, Cvetkovic is an utter sniper'both from midrange and beyond the arc. Cvetkovic was already a knockdown threat prior to April, but his comfort/confidence level as a leader and primary option continues to visibly rise. He still looks to catch opponents off-guard as a reliable pick-and-pop option, but is also rolling and attacking the basket with increased poise. Cvetkovic does a phenomenal job of establishing his presence from beyond the arc, forcing defenders to account for him, and then continually taking whatever the opposition gives him. He hit plenty of midrange pull-ups off of a few dribbles, but would also finish or make the extra pass whenever available. Cvetkovic has clearly stepped up as a leader for this group, and has definitely proven himself as more than just a shooter'though he is elite in that department. Expect college coaches to start getting involved.
5'10 '23 Matt Kirby (Team Push)
Leadership comes in various different forms. Often times, folks will recognize a team's top scorer or most enticing long-term prospect and immediately give them the most appreciation. However, having an unselfish, intelligent, fundamentally sound floor general like Matt Kirby can make a major difference for any team. Each week, Team Push shows signs of improvement. While roster continuity and general cohesion have a lot to do with it, Kirby has quietly shined as a leader by example throughout this timeline. Plenty of folks will look at his size, but the point guard tends to outperform all types of opposing lead guards. He's an extremely poised, rugged defender with the blend of feel, quickness, and anticipation to consistently mirror his assignment. Kirby forces turnovers at a quality rate, pushes the break in transition, and makes the correct decision with unwavering consistency. Offensively, he looks to set the table for others and apply scoring pressure as needed. He prefers to manage the pace while abusing guys off the bounce, forcing the defense to collapse, and then making the subsequent pass to an open teammate. Anyone who truly appreciates basketball should be a fan of Kirby. His tough, team-first mentality is only part of what should make him coveted by various programs.
6'9 '23 Sam Martin (Strong Center)
It doesn't take someone brilliant to see the appeal with someone like Sam Martin'who has only continued to trend upward over the last month or so. Folks already seemed to realize his undeniable feel and overall skill level, but there was increased buzz this weekend surrounding his toughness and abilities as a rim-protector. Martin is a fluid, mobile big man who can consistently score, rebound, and block shots. While that seems pretty straightforward, his identity is broader than it might seem. He's an excellent post-up option with touch over either shoulder and the necessary physicality to play through contact around the basket. However, Martin is also more than capable of hitting midrange jumpers or shots from beyond the arc. He can alter his approach based on matchup, and accesses the correct scoring avenue more times than not. Martin is a nice passer and unselfish player who doesn't look to force the action. He's a quality rebounder on both ends of the floor. Additionally, Martin highlighted great timing defensively and blocked a lot of shots as a result. He continues to further solidify himself as one of the top big men in North Carolina's Class of 2023, and coaches would be wise to start offering.
6'2 '23 Gavin Bullock (BSA Supreme)
Unique players are always quite fun to watch, and Gavin Bullock definitely stood out among the most atypical prospects in the building. Since he just returned from injury, no one actually had the opportunity to see their complete original roster. That being said, Bullock has already proven to be a major addition to the squad. At 6-foot-2, he's one of the most versatile, adaptable pieces in the state. Few players (particularly at his size) can legitimately play as a center while also operating as a guard/wing. He defends and rebounds way bigger than his listed height, but highlights the skillset of a perimeter player. Bullock is a reliable shooter, penetrator, and overall creator with the blend of IQ and vision to make proper decisions with the ball in his hands. His value to this group was easy to see, especially in absence of a few other key pieces. This team has proven capable of toiling away at opponents, and Bullock's presence only makes them deadlier.