This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled down to the Rock Hill Sports and Events Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina for another two-day stretch of basketball. Although most teams have begun winding down and getting some much-needed rest, there were still plenty of noteworthy players and teams itching to compete. Our Summer Finale featured a variety of teams across all age groups, but this article will take a closer look at some personal favorites from the event…
6’5 ’24 Isaiah Evans (CLT Nation)
There was truly a ton of talent on display, especially within North Carolina’s Class of 2024, and Isaiah Evans stood out as much as anyone in attendance. Although we recently featured him on our “Bendel’s Best: Summer Grind,” it’s simply impossible to ignore everything he’s doing on the court. Over the last few months, Evans has generated a ton of buzz and ultimately solidified himself as one of the top prospects within his class. Given his physical growth and overall athleticism, Evans should already be an obvious target for all types of Division I programs. He’s long, smart, and skilled with the size and athleticism to cause matchup problems in every possible competition setting. Evans is a lethal three-point shooter and excellent finisher around the basket, but also displays quality creation skills off the bounce. He makes intelligent decisions, defends multiple positions comfortably, and understands how to reliably (and efficiently) establish himself as a scorer from all three levels. Evans also rebounds at a high volume, wreaks havoc as a shot-altering presence, and can easily push the break in transition. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to envision a scenario where he doesn’t become a priority for high-level programs, as Evans truly has the chance to be legitimately special.
6’8 ’24 Michael Marcus (Flight 9)
Big men always develop slower than any other position, so it’s already quite easy to get excited about Michael Marcus. Given his advanced feel and polish at such an early age, it makes sense as to why he just received an offer from Western Carolina. Marcus’ game is very steady and straightforward. Offensively, he makes strong, decisive moves and decisions out of the post, finishing extremely well with either hand or above the rim. His poise and patience on the block are truly uncommon for most 6-foot-8 rising sophomores. Marcus understands how to utilize his body properly to secure position in the post and as a rebounder on both ends of the floor. He possesses soft hands, terrific two-way instincts, and a fundamental approach, which leads to natural production. Marcus also does a nice job of running the floor in transition and walling-up to alter shots defensively. It’s only a matter of time before more programs get involved, since everyone should want a talented, low-maintenance guy like Marcus.
6’7 ’24 Richard Goods (Carolina Clutch)
Similar to others on this list, folks would be hard-pressed to find many players who have developed more than Richard Goods over the last calendar year. While his production and general abilities on the court have taken a clear step forward, he still has a ton of upside remaining. Goods functions very well as the undisputed leader of Carolina Clutch, operating as their primary rebounder, rim-protector, and offensive cog with his useful mix of post and face-up ability. He typically looks to secure position in the post and find ways to finish around the basket, but also seems more than comfortable at stepping out and hitting jumpers from midrange or beyond the arc. Goods plays hard, moves well for his size, and possesses a useful feel for the game on either end of the floor. Though still developing, it’s easy to see why he’s already received multiple Division I offers. Expect Goods to be a focal point for Smith during the upcoming season.
6’4 ’23 Cole Callaway (Dive On It)
Given the structure/personnel of Dive On It, Cole Callaway was often tasked with carrying the scoring load for this group. Not only were they short-handed in terms of bodies, but their overall lack of scorers/shooters really put pressure on the rising junior. For what it’s worth, Callaway being forced to handle the ball, burden the scoring load, and create for himself and others actually led to visible growth throughout the weekend. Sure, he put forth numerous high scoring totals between the two days, but how he did it was arguably even more impressive. Known for his three-point shooting, Callaway actively mixed up his approach and applied consistent scoring pressure from all three levels. He took opponents off the dribble, attacked closeouts, and still hit his usual amount of looks as a spot-up threat. Callaway moves well without the ball and understands how to relocate for opportunities. He worked hard defensively, positioned himself for rebounds, and shined as a leader on a regular basis. Callaway should be a major addition for Lake Norman.
6’2 ’22 Finley Simmons (Big Shots Ellis)
Although there are so many guys worthy of attention from this group, it’s too difficult to ignore the unselfish, blue-collar nature of someone like Finley Simmons. Others (like Jaquantae Harris and Eli Ellis) had strong showings, but Simmons ability to produce in every possible setting and with any collection of talent always seems to stand out. He’s a natural glue-guy who simply makes an impact in every facet of the game. Simmons plays with a high motor, defends with phenomenal energy, willingly does the dirty work, and understands how to fill in the gaps offensively. He’s a capable scorer from all levels, but can also assume playmaking duties or effectively cut without the ball. Simmons defends opposing guards very well, rebounds nicely for his size/position, and makes consistently smart decisions with the ball in his hands. Between his status with Mount Tabor, NC Spartans, and now Big Shots Ellis, he has more than proven himself worthy of attention from college coaches.