This past weekend Phenom Hoops traveled down to the Rock Hill Sports and Events Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina for our Phenom Challenge. There was an obvious amount of talent in the gym, which led to numerous standout performers across the weekend. This article will take a closer, more detailed look at some of those personal favorites…
6’8 ’23 Greg “GG” Jackson (Upward Stars)
Over the last few years, South Carolina has made it abundantly clear that they possess more than their fair share of basketball talent—and Greg “GG” Jackson is quickly becoming the next great prospect from the Palmetto State. Though he’s still working to clearly define his position, Jackson is already someone that coaches simply want and need on the court. Standing at a long, wiry, 6-foot-8, Jackson is extremely skilled for his size and possesses a very natural, instinctive feel for the game. He’s a defensive dynamo that naturally causes all sorts of problems for the opposition, specifically through his ability to actively switch across multiple positions while standing out as a reliable rim-protector. Jackson is also quite fluid and runs the floor effectively in transition. He’s a capable rebounder with the necessary tools to push the break and make legitimately impressive, intelligent decisions with the ball in his hands. Jackson is a great finisher around the basket, both above and below the rim, but can also step out and create or knock down spot-up jumpers at an efficient clip from the perimeter. Being at Ridge View and within the Upward Stars organization should give Jackson the appropriate setting to really blossom and start collecting high-level offers over the next few years.
6’0 ’21 Jaden Ellis (Cobras 2021)
As we’ve stated dozens of times throughout the last few weeks, this Cobras 2021 squad should already be a priority for numerous college programs. With that, it should be plainly acknowledged that Jaden Ellis is arguably playing the best basketball of his high school career. Though he was already a quality player and stood out as the leader for majority of teams, Ellis has really taken the next step in advancing and tightening up all facets of his game. His efficiency is as high as ever while his well-rounded skillset is genuinely affecting every statistical category in the stat sheet. In many ways, Ellis is the x-factor for this group. Since he closes most games, bringing him off the bench makes things even tougher for the opposition. In addition to playing alongside other primary ball-handlers, Ellis has shown the ability to legitimately thrive in various different roles. He’s a great ball-handler and creator with the necessary IQ and understanding to consistently make the correct play. His improved blend of penetration and perimeter shooting has made him even tougher for opponents to contain. As excellent as he’s been on offense, Ellis has arguably been even better defensively. He’s quietly made his impression on that end of the floor through quickness, positioning, and sharp anticipation. Through two weekends, Ellis forced an abundance of turnovers, offered a reliable two-way presence, and has shined as a leader for this group. College coaches should certainly be getting involved with the point guard prospect.
6’1 ’23 Jamal Townsend (Team Trezz)
Right now, the Team Trezz organization is loaded with talented prospects like Zion Collins and Jordan Vick, but Jamal Townsend is also certainly a name worth noting. He’s a heady, dynamic guard with quality size, length, and a fairly active motor on both ends of the floor. There were multiple showings where Townsend was simply the best and most consistent player on the court. However, he still seems to play hard and embrace his identity–regardless of statistical success. Townsend is terrific at attacking the basket but understands how to mix it up and showcased a respectable perimeter jumper as well. He’s a capable ball-handler and overall playmaker, and possesses a natural nose for the ball. His physicality and defensive understanding allow him to regularly overwhelm his assignment and force turnovers, which often leads to easy transition opportunities. Though his physical attributes were very appealing, Townsend also highlighted an excellent blend of IQ, toughness, and leadership by example. It’s somewhat early in his progression, but Townsend has all the makings of what should become a very enticing next-level prospect.
5’9 ’25 Eli Ellis (TLBA)
The evolution of grassroots basketball has really allowed for unique opportunities at every turn, and Eli Ellis has taken advantage as well as anyone. Being around Moravian Prep and older, much more physically-developed players on a daily basis has adequately prepared the middle-school prospect for greatness. For starters, it should be mentioned that Ellis’ situation and overall grasp of the opportunity is extremely uncommon. Even if given a similar circumstance, majority of players would be unable to grow and genuinely separate themselves quite like this. Just in the last calendar year, we’ve seen Ellis go from a spot-up threat and overall shooter from distance to the all-around leader of a team. This event provided us with the chance to see both sides of his ascension, both with his own age group and when playing up against older, notable opponents. Ellis has definitely maintained his toughness and high-level shooting abilities, but has really utilized the platform against his age level to continually add more to his game. He’s able to effectively play either backcourt position, create quality (often difficult) shots out of little to nothing, and lead a team on both ends of the floor. Ellis was more than a reliable contributor with high school opponents and utterly dominant against his peers, which should make these next few years exciting to monitor.
5’11 ’21 Brookes Kahlert (Atlanta Timberwolves)
Each year, the Atlanta Timberwolves find a way to piece together an incredibly unselfish, well-rounded group. This summer has been no different, and Brookes Kahlert has been at the forefront of their identity. Despite being an extremely balanced group, the crafty, savvy point guard stands out as an obvious leader. There’s just something exciting about his approach and fast-paced, run-and-gun style of play. That being said, Kahlert is equally as efficient and effective conducting an offense in the half-court. He sees the entire floor at all times, takes advantage of scoring opportunities from all levels, and can reliably operate with or without the ball in his hands. Kahlert possesses an exceptional combination of IQ, shooting, and playmaking, which makes him a seamless floor general. His game is very straightforward but his actual abilities tend to catch the opposition by surprise. Kahlert plays with a burst of swagger, along with majority of this roster, and simply encompasses all of the traits that will make him an absolute gem at the next level. Despite this being our first viewing of Kahlert in the travel ball season, it’s easy to see a scenario where he collects an abundance of scholarships over the next six months.