This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled down to the Rock Hill Sports and Events Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina for a three-day stretch of very entertaining competition. We had a trio of different events taking place from the Hoopstate Championship to the Post Grad Nationals to the Phenom Opening, and each offered its own collection of standouts. Although we still plan to highlight prospects from the Hoopstate Championship and Post Grad Nationals, this article will focus primarily on our Opening. The start of the grassroots season provides an opportunity for teams to play quality competition, work out the kinks, and start determining the who’s who within the travel ball landscape. Let’s take a closer look at some personal favorites…
6’6 ’24 Drake Powell (Team CP3)
It’s very uncommon to see a high-level prospect with no ego, entitlement, or overall baggage, especially when they’ve earned status or offers at an early stage in their playing career. However, Drake Powell is one of those rare examples. His addition to Team CP3 has been absolutely seamless. Powell’s length, versatility and sharp instincts make him an incredible defensive cog with the tools to single-handedly wreak havoc unto opponents. He utilizes his unbelievable length to intercept passing lanes, force errant decisions, and block shots at a high volume for a wing prospect. Though Powell’s amazing defensive prowess has already been well-documented, it simply never gets old. He’s also among the smartest and most adaptable players in the state. Powell can (and will) do whatever the team requires. He can initiate the offense, spot-up or cut without the ball, and effectively create for himself or others off the bounce. Powell showcased a well-rounded offensive arsenal by attacking the basket, making intelligent passes, knocking down three-pointers at a respectable percentage, and consistently filling in the gaps wherever possible. He’s also a quality athlete with excellent intangibles and the ability to excel within any type of role. Powell is already a high-major prospect, but expect his stock to continue rising.
6’8 ’25 Trent Steinour (Carolina Riptide)
Although folks are typically weary of the word “potential,” it should pose much of a concern when discussing Trent Steinour. Sure, he’s oozing with upside as a long, wiry post prospect who is still truly just scratching the surface. That being said, Steinour is already highlighting a lot of ability and a skillset that will inevitably lead to a collegiate opportunity—even if his development stopped today. As a young, 6-foot-8 big man, he possesses the makings of a modernized center. Few post players in the state can match his blend of rebounding, shot-blocking, and three-point shooting. Steinour is great at playing within himself and not forcing the offensive action. He’s an effective screener with the ability to roll or pop, and displays a high comfort level in both areas. Steinour finished well through contact, blocked shots at a pretty impressive rate, and showed visible progression on both ends of the floor. Division I coaches would be wise to monitor his growth over the foreseeable future.
6’8 ’23 Clash Peters (Wildcats Elite)
Given their emergence as a program last summer, we were very excited to see this new-look Wildcats Elite squad. Led by Clash Peters, they certainly did not disappoint. There is so much appeal with a 6-foot-8 forward with skill, athleticism, and the ability to cause matchup problems for opponents. Peters is a capable inside-out offensive option with a strong blend of vision, ball skills, perimeter shooting, and post moves. He displays touch, feel, and the willingness to alter his scoring approach based on matchup. Peters is more mobile than a majority of opposing big men, and will actively look to attack off the dribble, but is also stronger and more athletic than most perimeter guys (where he will exploit mismatches as well). He’s a quality rebounder who can reliably push the break and make decisions with the ball in his hands. Peters is a useful defender who plays with somewhat of a chip on his shoulder. Between his recent high school season and start to the travel ball season, scholarship-level programs should start laying groundwork immediately.
6’5 ’24 Carlos Vasquez (Eastern Carolina Phenomz)
The Eastern Carolina Phenomz are consistently among the better independent travel ball programs in the state, and this year’s squad is no different. While their entire team is worthy of attention, Carlos Vasquez consistently stood out as a main catalyst. He’s a smart, strong, skilled wing/forward prospect with excellent versatility on both ends of the floor. Very seldom do you see a guy control the glass, dictate the offense, and toggle between multiple positions defensively, but Vasquez did exact that. It was impossible to be anything other than impressed with his leadership, both by example and through production. Vasquez is unselfish and adaptable, which allows him to effortlessly affect all facets of the game within the flow of the action. He pushes the break, makes great decisions with the ball, and finishes very well through contact. Vasquez also hit perimeter jumpers at a nice percentage, consistently got others involved, and made hustle plays on either side of the ball. It would be difficult to say anything other than positives about his showing at our Opening. Expect him to continue turning heads over the coming months.
6’7 ’24 Maurio Hanson (Team CP3)
In an age where so many young prospects are obsessing about multi-dribble combos or shooting jumpers from the logo, it’s refreshing to see someone who understands and embraces their identity like Maurio Hanson. He’s a big, strong, polished force on the block with touch, soft hands, and quality athleticism. Hanson can knock down the midrange jumper, but is basically unstoppable when slotted near the basket. He’s great at securing position, overpowering opponents, making advanced moves, and finishing above or though contact. Hanson displays excellent feel and footwork, and seemed to score every time in single coverage. He also runs the floor properly, passes effectively out of the post, and rebounds the ball at a consistent rate on both ends of the floor. Hanson possesses a simple, straightforward game and thrives because he doesn’t try to be something or someone he’s not. Division I programs have already gotten involved, so expect his offer sheet to continually grow.