Take a deep breath because that time of year once again, AAU season is here and in full swing! Phenom Hoops kicked things with an absolute bang with Phenom Opening, a two-day tournament featuring some of the top travel ball programs around the Southeast.
Greensboro, High School- Smith High School was one of the sights for a full weekend slate of games, prospects from the 2023-2021 classes battled it out on court one for bragging rights, and a chance to play for a championship during opening weekend. A number of prospects put themselves on the radar with strong performances and look primed for a big travel ball season, lets dive in and examine some of these stock risers.
6’8 2022 Brandon White (Mooresville Wolfpack)
White Impacted the contest on both ends, White is a reliable finisher down low, he finished strong and in style, something younger bigs sometimes shy away from.
The foundation is good here White has good hands, was ready to finish upon the catch regardless of pressure. White showed natural shot-blocking instincts, sent several shots into the stands. Gets nice lift and utilizes his length to bother the shots he can’t get too, covers a lot of ground and runs the floor extremely well.
2023 Luke Jennings (Team Rogue)
Jennings is a natural floor general that knows how to orchestrate the offense efficiently. Jennings is an extension of a coach on the floor, a selfless leader who won’t hesitate to make the extra pass.
Jennings posses a nice handle and he takes care of the rock, Jennings looked comfortable with either hand. The kid plays with flare and nice pace in transition, showed good vision and delivered accurate timely dimes. Jennings will also make the defense pay if they’re playing too far off.
5’8 2022 Jeavion Ikard (Team Hickory)
Ikard is another pass-first floor general and his passing capability was on full display for his side. Ikard posses advanced court vision, he will draw attention off the drive and dump off an assist at the last possible second. Nice handle stays low with the basketball, Ikard is quick with the basketball one quick hesitation and he’s off to the races in the open floor. Ikard made shots when Team Hickory required it, he wasn’t afraid of contact or competing on the boards. Ikard is a player who follows his shot, he’s got quick hands and can really get under opposing ball handlers.
6’5 2023 Elijah Strong (Hoyas)
One of the younger competitors on display playing up, but also one of the most skilled for his size. At 6’5 plays on the perimeter and in the paint, capable shooter from behind the arc, range really stretches defenses out.
Strong posses a decent handle in the open floor, he was able to take his man off the dribble, and get to the cup. Long athlete that covers a lot of ground with his stride, can create separation off the bounce as well. When people see… it will blow them away he’s an eighth grader.
6’1 2021 Cole Sinclair (Durham Hurricanes)
Sinclair was a late add to this group, and Sinclair came off the bench to really help propel this group to a strong third-place finish in a tough Tarheel 16U bracket.
Sinclair scored in double figures twice for this group over the weekend, Sinclair had his jump shot going he’s money on catch and shoot opportunities, and Sinclair will create looks for himself with separation off the dribble. Sinclair is a smart decision-maker in pick N roll sets, he able to read the defense and find holes. Sinclair attacked the cup strong when opportunities were presented and he battled through cramps to put together a solid showing.
5’10 2021 Damario Norris (Fayetteville Flash)
Norris made his money in the paint at just 5’10 he’s an above average finisher. Norris is stronger than he looks, he comes through the lane like a running back hitting the hole, Norris is tough with the basketball and no matter how deep he gets, Norris always seemed to get a clean look off.
Norris can play above the rim he’s explosive off the bounce. Norris impressed with his body control the youngster seemingly glides to the cup, he’s able to hang in the air and evade defenders. Norris will take all the contact at the cup and he keeps coming back for more, Norris has a tight handle and a devastating first step to go with it. The jumper is still coming along but once that domino falls seriously watch out, defensively Norris gets after his man and makes the opposition work for almost every bucket.
5’11 2022 Jahreece Lynch (Team Winston)
Lynch burst onto the scene to start things off for a talented 15U Team Winston squad. Lynch leads a backcourt full of capable guards unafraid of the big moment, this group played well together and they play hard for one another.
Lynch plays with serious swagger, he’s confident with the rock in his hands. At this stage Lynch is more of a scoring guard, Lynch can shoot it from deep finish going either direction. Lynch also flashed a nice mid-range game, an area that’s becoming a lost art with some of today’s young guards. Lynch was the best player on the floor for Team Winston for majority of the weekend, he should continue to make strides and grow over this travel season, it should be fun to watch.