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…
6’5 ’21 Dessie Canty Jr. (Upward Stars Watson)
It’s been stated many times before, but South Carolina prospects simply don’t seem to receive the appropriate amount of respect from many college coaches—and arguably no one currently fits that bill better than Dessie Canty Jr. There’s a variety of other candidates in this recruiting situation, but Canty’s is truly perplexing. He has been the focal point of Upward Stars Watson in nearly each contest throughout the travel ball season, seamlessly dictating the offensive action while showing the instincts to wreak havoc defensively. Canty is an effortlessly powerful athlete with a quick burst when attacking the basket and the strength to finish through a ton of contact. He changes directions quickly, makes quality passes, and scores at an efficient clip from all levels. Canty has shown the ability to reliably handle the ball and create for himself or others off the dribble, understanding how to defer to others but consistently seizing easy scoring opportunities whenever available. His IQ, size, motor, polish, and toughness (in addition to everything else listed above) should have scholarship-level programs in constant pursuit of Canty for the next calendar year.
6’3 ’21 Christian Wright (TSF)
It should surprise no one to hear that The Skill Factory was a balanced, impressive machine of high-level prospects working in-sync with one another. Their roster is full of players who already hold offers, and Christian Wright was arguably their most reliable piece throughout the weekend. Though he only holds six offers, they are from the likes of Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee, TCU, St. Johns, Kansas State, and Nebraska. However, it’s somewhat confusing to try and fathom why the all-around guard hasn’t received anything new within the last year or so. Wright’s complete game legitimately allows him to operate within any type of role, but usually finds himself as the primary creator and offensive initiator for this group. He’s capable of breaking down defenders, attacking the basket, setting up others, or asserting his smooth jumper from the perimeter. Wright can also easily slide off-ball and immediately pose a major spot-up threat. He truly doesn’t have any glaring holes or weaknesses within his skillset, and it’s evident against various levels of competition. Wright’s recruitment should pick back up, as he would be a great addition to various programs.
6’3 ’23 Amari Odom (Team Hoop State)
It’s no secret that North Carolina’s Class of 2023 is being discussed as one of the most talented classes in recent memory, especially at the guard position. However, not enough folks are talking about Amari Odom as one of the better prospects in the state—despite possessing all the tools to be a special type of talent. Various others on this roster have been receiving attention, but there’s something so appealing about the smart, smooth, and mature way that he runs a team. Odom has an advanced IQ and sees the game unfold differently than most players, able to identify seams and openings before they actually emerge. Odom is an efficient scorer from all levels, but looks to get downhill and make plays whenever possible. He’s a sharp passer with excellent ball-handling abilities, which often forces the opposition to give him extra defensive attention. Between his IQ, size, and craftiness, Odom is going to get wherever he wants on the court and has the instincts to make the best possible decision with unwavering consistency. It’s still early in his development process, but Odom should quickly emerge as a Division I prospect going forward.
6’5 ’23 Collin Murray-Boyles (Upward Stars Columbia)
Many folks in South Carolina have already been made aware about Collin Murray-Boyles and his likelihood to become a high-level prospect. That being said, the situation feels almost similar to PJ Hall going into his sophomore season playing for Upward Stars Upstate White—where both guys were already easily among the top prospects within the entire program. It’s seemed to work out, as Hall is headed to Clemson while Murray-Boyles has been nothing short of dominant during the summer season. Given how much of his diverse skillset he’s shown at such an early stage, his upside is truly on another level from most prospects. Murray-Boyles is quite versatile and shows the ability to work outside or inside the arc, though he’s pretty much unstoppable around the basket. His understanding of timing and how to utilize his length make him an incredible finisher. He’s a great rebounder with the skill and versatility to reliably push the break in transition, where he’s able finish or to set up others. As impressive as Murray-Boyles is around the basket, his blossoming perimeter skills already makes him an absolute matchup problem. He handles the ball, sees the floor, shoots the ball at a solid clip, and displays well-rounded athleticism. Murray-Boyles is smart, skilled, and versatile, and will gradually begin to blow up as his body matures. College programs should already be monitoring.
6’6 ’22 Nolan Hodge (NC Gaters)
It might seem somewhat tiring for people to continually read about Nolan Hodge and his overall greatness, but something has to give sooner or later. At 6-foot-6 with IQ, athleticism, and a smooth all-around game, he should be one of the most coveted assets within the region. He’s a high-level shooter with excellent vision and the ability to reliably operate off the bounce against any type of defender. Hodge is a walking mismatch simply due to his incredibly high level of skill and overall offensive versatility. He can legitimately run an offense or operate without the ball and still shine as the focal point. Hodge continually mixes it up and actively scores the ball on all three levels with great efficiency. His toughness and assertiveness at hunting for his own shot seems to improve each time he takes the court. Unlike most players, the team benefits so much more when Hodge is looking to dominate rather than taking advantage of his opportunities within the flow of the offense. He’s unselfish and more than capable at setting up others, but can also anchor the scoring load for various different styles of play. Hodge is deserving of more attention within his recruitment and should hold over a dozen offers by this point next year.