This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled back to the Upward Star Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina for another weekend of grassroots basketball. We saw a lot of familiar faces in addition to the numerous new programs on display. There were plenty of standouts on display, and this article will take a closer look at some personal favorites from the two-day event, each of which are deserving of more action within their recruitment…
6’3 ’21 Undre Lindsay (Team 864)
There are plenty of unforeseen circumstances within grassroots basketball, and Undre Lindsay could be considered one of those situations. After establishing himself as a high-level football talent, he decided to return to the hardwood in dominant fashion. Some things never change, and Lindsay’s abilities as an offensive machine have remained intact through the test of time. Between his IQ, size, pace, and ability to create (and covert) from anywhere on the floor, he’s pretty much unstoppable—especially once he gets going. Lindsay is a quality athlete and doesn’t overcomplicate things with the ball in his hands, typically relying on straightforward, fundamental moves to generate clean looks. He’s an intense defender with great length, positioning, and anticipation. Lindsay is excellent in the open floor and shows a willingness to make the extra pass when necessary. He also stands out as a strong rebounder for his position and simply understands how to apply nonstop pressure as an efficient three-level scorer. Lindsay has spoken about his desire to play basketball at the next level, which should have scholarship-holding coaches extremely happy for the opportunity to vie for his services.
5’8 ’21 Lamont McNeill (NLPB)
Uncertainty has continued to swirl throughout the last month about the possibilities surrounding an upcoming high school season, but it hasn’t seemed to affect Lamont McNeill at all. Arguably no player has kept their foot pressed on the gas quite as aggressively as the undersized, quick-as-lightning lead guard. He’s purely destructive in transition, especially with the ball in his hands, and understands how to turn transition play into easy fast break opportunities. Between his craftiness and underrated strength, McNeill actually finishes majority of his attempts around the basket. He’s also proven to be a quality three-point shooter and capable passer. However, as effective as McNeill is in all those aforementioned areas, he truly lives in the midrange. Every player has their go-to spots on the floor, and McNeill’s comes in the form of an incredibly lethal pull-up jumper from anywhere within 15-18 feet. His size, or lack thereof, actually benefits him in accessing these shots, as his balance combined with the ability to stop and rise up often leaves defenders in the dust. Additionally, McNeill draws a ridiculous number of fouls and has shown the scoring consistency to burden an efficient offensive attack. He should definitely have a variety of options at the next level.
6’0 ’22 Connor Ballou (NC Gaters)
The NC Gaters roster is composed of numerous complementary players, which is arguably what makes Connor Ballou somewhat underrated to most. His game isn’t flashy or highlighted by powerful dunks, but rather so poised and straightforward that his dominance comes across as subtle. Ballou has continually transitioned his game from being a spot-up threat to a complete guard with playmaking skills and high-level shooting abilities from the perimeter. He simplifies the game so well, making smart passes, taking open shots, and showing an understanding of how to breakdown opposing defenses. His IQ, shooting prowess, and low-maintenance role will allow Ballou to shine in any possible setting. However, it should be noted that his defense, toughness, and willingness to make hustle plays also don’t go unnoticed. Ballou doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses within his identity and should easily stand out as the leader (while collecting offers) for the Vikings next season.
6’5 ’22 Isaiah Williams (Charlotte Hoyas)
The Charlotte Hoyas have quietly become a personal favorite to watch compete, as their roster is full of tough, intelligent, unselfish players. Their depth and game plan make for an incredible on-court product, and Isaiah Williams is a massive part of their overall success. Though the Hoyas are a balanced group, Williams arguably has his imprints on the game as much as anyone. Unlike most, it starts with his reliable defensive presence. Williams is an absolute menace on that end of the floor, defending along the perimeter while consistently anchoring the paint and accumulating blocked shots. He also displays great timing and anticipation for jumping into passing lanes and immediately pushing the break. Williams is slightly undersized but has the IQ, strength, and toughness to play so much bigger than his listed height. He’s a great finisher through contact with the ability to play above the rim, but can also reliably step out and knock down open jumpers. His passing, especially in the open floor, remains one of his most underrated qualities. Williams embodies all the traits of a winner and should have ample next-level opportunities set to emerge over the next calendar year.
6’5 ’23 Nicholas Davis (CB Hoops)
Despite being the youngest player on this list, it was easy to see the intrigue and long-term possibilities with someone like Nicholas Davis. That being said, he’s already quite skilled and productive as a clear leader of this CB Hoops squad. At 6-foot-5, Davis already showcases the ability to handle the ball, create for himself or others off the dribble, and score in a variety of different ways. Not only did he handle the ball, but he often operated as the point guard and primary creator for this squad. This was intentional, not by default, as it naturally seemed to cause all sorts of matchup problems. Davis is far too skilled for most big men to contain and too long for most guards to contain. He’s a smart passer, understands how to make plays as a penetrator, and consistently makes his presence felt in transition. Davis is already quite talented, but will only continue to trend upward and could eventually emerge as a special type of prospect.