Phenom Hoops was at Proehlific Park in Greensboro, North Carolina this past weekend for the first session of our Summer Grind. As we are on the eve of this summer’s LIVE period, events like this are a nice tune-up to prepare for the bigger stage. Next, we will look at some of the players that made a noticeable impact on the court.
Ben L. Smith
Smith has as much talent as any team in Greensboro, and the intrigue is heightened by young forward 6’6 Silas Mason (2020). Versatility meets upside with Mason, as he has the ability to guard two or three positions very well at the high school level and possesses all the physical tools to become a rangy lockdown defender at the next level. Though his offensive game is still growing, he showcases three-level scoring and deft touch around the basket. Mason loves to drive the ball and use his length to score; his athleticism is terrific and the crowd will hold their breath as he rises for an array of tantalizing dunks. He is an effective two-way rebounder that warrants a ton of second chance opportunities. Mason is certainly going to be a big-time prospect that will continue to develop over the next three years. Once he puts all the pieces together, expect Mason to have his choice of schools.
Some guys are simply wired to score, and 5’11 Jacob Crutchfield (2018)can score with the best of them. He is a lock to get 20 points literally every game and usually ends up close to 30 when it’s all said and done. It’s how Crutchfield scores that is impressive: he can accelerate to full speed, stop on a dime, and pull it (from anywhere) in the defenders’ eyes. Some may point to his height and consider that a weakness, but Crutchfield has a strong frame and terrific body control to go along with a quick-release jump shot, therefore it is less of an issue. He’s not just a shooter either; he has a tight handle and plays full-throttle on defense. His defensive abilities have been somewhat overlooked, but Crutchfield is a quality all-around defender with quick hands and feet. College coaches will begin to look at him harder in the coming months since a deadly scorer like Crutchfield can greatly benefit numerous programs.
Two-way players are as valuable as they’ve ever been and 6’6 Isaiah Bigelow (2018) has the potential to be one of the best in the state. In many ways, Bigelow is the glue that holds a team together, whether it’s Team Felton or Smith HS, and that’s the perfect role for him. When the team needs scoring, Bigelow can go get an efficient bucket from all three levels. He is long and cannot be left alone off-ball; he will punish opponents with a barrage of three-pointers and tricky cuts leading to layups/dunks. Another interesting lining with Bigelow is that he can play all positions in the pick-and-roll: ball handler, pick-setter (pop or roll), or spot-up on the weak side. He can swing a game when hitting the glass aggressively, as it allows him to push the break and make plays in the open floor. Biglow’s defense is a major selling point; he’s versatile enough to defender three positions extremely well and really knows how to use his length to disrupt opponents. His ability to play a number of different roles is also quite appealing, as he can coexist with any lineup and thrives with or without the ball. There really is no weak point in Bigelow’s game, which should make him extremely coveted in the upcoming LIVE period, where he should certainly net a handful of offers.
High Point Havoc
This AAU team has consistently improved their play all summer and they’ll only get better with new addition, 6’3 Drew Greene (2019). The Wesleyan product recently joined the Havoc and he’s just what they needed. Greene is a terrific all-around guard that can play with or without the ball and still hurt opposing defenses. He plays with a very high IQ and shows an unselfish nature, ready and willing to always make the best play possible. Greene is a really efficient three-level scorer that is finally getting the appropriate amount of touches to elevate his quality of play. He gets his points within the offense, always being very careful and patient to not force the action, but rather let things come to him. Greene has fantastic court awareness and the uncanny ability to manipulate defenses into showing their weak points. He rebounds well and possesses a solid frame for a guard. Most guys want to play like Kyrie Irving or Russell Westbrook; Greene is more like the George Hill mold, as the consistently smart, reliable option for a team. After picking up a Campbell offer last week, expect Greene to gain more upon entering July and the second LIVE period.
Next, we look at a player that takes more charges than any other player in AAU basketball, 6’0 Jeremy Butler (2018). Butler is a guard that plays for the team first and foremost, willing to do anything to provide the Havoc with an edge. Offensively, Butler sets things up and has proved to be a willing passer always looking to make the right play. He only plays one way, hard, which consistently leads to opponents getting mowed over and frustrated. Any extra possessions are a huge priority for him; Butler is the first guy diving on the floor or out of bounds for a loose ball. He really takes great pride in his play on the defensive end, where he sticks to opponents like glue on and off-ball. The ability to take charges must be reiterated, as he stands in a class by himself, always lurking to slide under opponents driving to the basket. The more you watch Butler, the more you’ll appreciate him.
Finally, 6’3 Garrett Flinchum (2019) is the guy that often gets overlooked and ends up silently destroying opponents with his shooting. Now reclassed and heading to Forsyth Country Day School, expect Flinchum’s recruitment to start picking up some serious traction. Offensively, he’s an efficient three-level scorer that simply cannot be left alone behind the three-point line. Flinchum plays with a very high IQ and doesn’t force the action on offense, choosing to move without the ball and let things come to him. He has some off-the-bounce game, where he has shown the ability to create for others. Flinchum competes on the glass and defense; he’s a true team player that will do anything necessary to win. Though he’s always been a good shooter, Flinchum has developed a knockdown stroke, especially from three-point territory. As he continues to get better and more comfortable with the Havoc, watch for Flinchum to have a standout July period.