Each year, Phenom Hoops’ high school rankings (NCISAA/NCHSAA/Sweet Sixteen) always seem to get folks worked up. Like most rankings list, they simply don’t matter. They are opinion-based and have no actual effect on the teams or players involved, perhaps beyond receiving some minor attention. However, the competitive balance is more evident now than the last few seasons. That being said, Carmel Christian has found themselves as the top team in our rankings and continue to justify their claim of the private-school throne. Let’s take a closer look at how they’ve gotten to this point…

While the team has various different forms of leadership, Ben Burnham clearly plays a vital role for this group. His combination of size, athleticism, and nonstop motor simply leads to off-the-charts production on a nightly basis. Burnham is an exceptional rebounder through effort and positioning, and often outworks bigger/taller opponents on the glass. He’s a menacing force around the basket but also operates effectively as a straight-line penetrator and useful perimeter shooter. Burnham’s stat line of 22.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG and 2.2 BPG (with 66% shooting from the floor and 50% from beyond the arc) speaks for itself and should effectively translate to Winthrop. 

Although Burnham receives a lot of attention, Justin Taylor is arguably just as important to the overall success of this group. As the floor general and primary creator, Taylor offers a dynamic threat off the bounce. He highlights a nice balance between scoring and playmaking, able to access and convert from all three levels while actively looking to get others involved. Taylor is great in the open floor and displays decisiveness as a penetrator. He rebounds at a solid rate for his size and contains his assignment well defensively. Taylor is posting nightly averages of 13.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 3.9 APG Various types of programs are pursuing Taylor, which should only continue over the next calendar year and his pending season at Hargrave. 

The last of the seniors from their starting group, Glenn Bynum Jr., consistently makes his presence felt through effort and sheer adaptability. His ability and willingness to defend multiple positions while carrying his weight as a rebounder and overall utility player cannot be overstated. He’s a great cutter with the tools to assume ball-handling duties as needed, allowing him to find success from either guard position. Bynum is a quality, well-rounded athlete with an impressive motor and the understanding of how to properly fill in the gaps on both ends of the floor. It’s easy to see why college programs continue to place him on their list of targets. 

Meanwhile, the two newest additions, Cade Tyson and Luke Krawczyk, offer very useful on-court presences and provide optimism for the Cougars’ future. Tyson is rapidly gaining traction as the most appealing shooting threat in North Carolina, and it’s easy to see why. At 6-foot-7, he already has the bloodline, production, and translatable skillset to attract all types of coaches. Tyson might be the state’s most underrated prospect considering his current recruitment. On the other hand, Krawczyk is easily one of the steadiest players on the team. His game isn’t flashy, but it’s certainly effective. Krawczyk is a nice interior complement to Burnham and adapts his game accordingly. He rebounds well, displays touch around the basket, defends his position effectively, and can space the floor when necessary. Both guys have obvious next-level appeal.

Off the bench, guys like Kyle Bean and Bryson Pisacano understand how to successfully operate within their role and make plays within the flow of the team. Bean is a knockdown perimeter shooter with size, length, and spot-up ability while Pisacano also has the makings of a capable shooting threat. The roster continues with capable varsity contributors, but overall, it’s easy to see what has Carmel Christian atop our NCISAA rankings.