On Monday, Phenom Hoops traveled to High Point, North Carolina as the Trojans of Wesleyan Christian prepared to host the Carmel Christian Cougars. These are currently two of the better private school teams in the state and, with Ben Burnham and Justin Taylor out for Carmel, this contest had all the makings of an absolute battle. Both squads are hunting for their chance to vie for a state championship and the result of this game would certainly have implications in that regard.
The first quarter opened up in clear favor of Carmel, as they controlled the tempo, scored however they wanted, and looked ready to start pulling away. However, Wesleyan did a great job of readjusting and forcing Carmel to exploit the zone defense. They figured out how to turn the game around in the second quarter behind the productivity of Josh Wiggins and Aisaiah Phillips, allowing Wesleyan to enter halftime with a 37-36 lead. After halftime, these two squads went blow-for-blow throughout the next twelve or so minutes. It wasn’t until Glenn Bynum Jr. hit a pair of massive three-pointers in the waning minutes that allowed Carmel to regain control of the lead. It was a one-possession game but Wesleyan was ultimately forced to foul down the stretch, extending the deficit and allowing Carmel to take a 69-63 victory over the Trojans.
6’5 ’20 Kenny Gwynn
It’s easy to understand what makes Gwynn so appealing, given his consistent production on a nightly basis. He’s big, strong, smart, mobile, and plays with a nonstop motor, which allows him to naturally make plays and affect the action on both ends of the floor. Gwynn works as an offensive initiator, active cutter, and does just about everything in between. He can knock down perimeter jumpers but prefers to attack the basket and finish through contact whenever possible. Gwynn is a reliable two-way rebounder and seems to always fulfill that glue-guy role, regardless of context, setting, or surrounding teammates. He’s a winner and leader by example, which should have a ton of Division II programs in pursuit. Final stats: 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
6’6 ’20 Myles Hunter
The Youngstown State signee continues to showcase excellent flashes on both ends of the floor, making shots offensively while applying fairly versatile defensive pressure. Hunter can run the offense and setup others or applying scoring pressure in a variety of different ways. He utilizes his length very effectively to force turnovers and make his presence felt as a rebounder. Final stats: 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
6’3 ’21 Glenn Bynum Jr.
Anyone who is a fan of basketball can appreciate the consistent, blue-collar approach of Bynum. He has one of the best motors in the state and seems to always find himself making plays around the ball, forcing turnovers, securing rebounds, and capitalizing when it matters most on offense. Bynum possesses great energy and knows how to properly apply it within the course of a given contest. He was a major difference-maker down the stretch, hitting two extremely important three-pointers to vault his team into a winning position. College coaches should take notice. Final stats: 13 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals.
6’8 ’22 Elijah Gray
Despite being the youngest player on this roster, it’s pretty obvious what makes Gray so enticing as a Division I prospect. When IQ, size, and skill all meet, special things tend to happen. That feels like exactly the case with Gray, who has all the tools and only seems to get better upon each new viewing. He actively toggles between the interior and perimeter while showcasing high-level flashes of skill in both areas, already making him one of the most dynamic young players in the state. Gray displays quality aggression and continues to develop the overall balance within his game. He can legitimately handle the ball, create off the dribble, make sharp passes, score on all three levels, rebound on both ends, and outwork his assignment on defense. That’s already an incredible list of attributes, but it’s still only the beginning. Final stats: 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.
6’5 ’20 Josh Wiggins
Aside from being the clear motor, toughness, and leader by example for this team, Wiggins is also one of the most productive nightly performers on this roster. He makes his presence felt within the flow of the team, never forcing the action and always looking for the best available play. Wiggins is a pesky defender with great length and anticipation, which allows him to jump into passing lanes quite regularly. He loves to get downhill and finish around the basket but also showed his ability to score off sheer effort plays on the offensive glass. Wiggins simply finds a way to make plays and should certainly have a place at the next level. Final stats: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals.
6’1 ’21 Aisaiah Phillips
There’s a lot to like with this Wesleyan roster, especially with Phillips back at full strength. He’s such a dynamic lead guard with the ability to take anyone off the dribble and make plays within the paint. Phillips gets downhill and by the point of attack with relative ease, where he’s proven to be a capable finisher or playmaker (from dump-offs and kick-outs). He makes intelligent decisions with the ball in his hands and sees the entire floor well in the open court. Phillips is a quick, crafty offensive threat that knows how to eliminate operating space and force numerous turnovers defensively. He’s another prospect that all types of programs should be monitoring throughout the next calendar year. Final stats: 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.
6’5 ’21 Isaiah Ray
Arguably the most intriguing prospect on this roster, Ray has discovered somewhat of a new identity with his Wesleyan squad. He’s long, skilled, and athletic but also has the necessary IQ and mentality to operate as a secondary creator. They have shown some impressive flashes by putting the ball in Ray’s hands and telling him to go to work, which basically mirrors the same drive-and-kick style that Phillips utilizes. Having two guys who can reliably create is a definite weapon but relies on shooters to knock down shots. Ray is also a versatile defender and quality rebounder with the ability to grab and push in transition.