The inaugural Carmel Classic Tip Off Classic presented by Phenom Hoop Report jumpstarted the 2018-19 North Carolina high school basketball season, not to mention the first time the 35 second shot clock was used in the state of North Carolina. While the use of the shot clock created a buzz and excitement, it wasn’t anywhere close to the enthusiasm and excitement that was generated on the court. Today, we want to take a closer look at the top performance on opening night. To put it mildly, it was tremendous.

6’0 2019 Raishaun Brown (Asheville Christian)

If Raishaun’s opening night performance is any indication of the upcoming season, D2 and lower tier D1 programs better jump over the opportunity to start actively recruiting him.Simply put Brown was absolutely terrific. The scoring point guard torched the nets for a game high 30 points, At the half, Brown had 24 points and knocked down five 3-pointers, but this just begins to tell the story. We’re talking about an active, athletic and super quick point guard. He can score from all three levels and has the ability to get into the paint with ease. His performance earned him the Awards of Excellence Game MVP.


6’3 2021 AJ Smith (Hickory Grove)

First of all, AJ Smith is going to be a highly coveted prospect. He is strong, explosive and aggressive, not to mention a high motor and a great feel for the game. He simply has a unique blend of advanced skill and athleticism for his age/grade. Smith chipped in a game high 29 points and was nearly unstoppable getting to the rim. Smith finished efficiently and effectively at the rim. If he wasn’t finishing, Smith was dropping off passes to open teammates. In addition, Smith is a strong, tough and reliable defender and will be a name for college coaches to put in their SIM card. Smith was named the Phenom Hoop Report Co-MVP.


5’8 2019 Kojack Thompson (Christ School)

Playing without three of their top players, Kojack Thompson proved the smallest player on the court played with the biggest heart. We’re talking about a young man that plays with tremendous energy, passion and enthusiasm, but more importantly provided court leadership. Thompson chipped in a game high 16 points and dished out seven assists. That being said, Thompson was the heart and soul of Christ School and had them playing as well as we’ve seen them in the past year with a more talented roster. In our opinion, Thompson was simply outstanding and his play earned him the Awards of Excellence Game MVP.


6’5 2019 Josh Nickelberry (Northwood Temple)

The Louisville commit is just a big time player. He combines an advanced skill set, athleticism and a competitive nature. He poured in a game high 31 points in the losing cause, but proved he is in consideration as an elite level player on the national stage. Nickelberry can score from any spot on the court and is quite effective with the step back that allows him to create space. We were impressed with his hustle, poise and maturity throughout the game. Nickelberry has always enjoyed the physical attributes, but is now developing into an all around player including intangibles that are often hard to count.


6’5 2019 Donovan Gregory (Carmel Christian)

The super athletic wing has always gained the reputation as one of the premier down hill players. He has tremendous athleticism, quick explosive leaping ability and the ability to turn around a game with his power dunks. Well, guess what! He did that again against a very good and talented Northwood Temple team, however Gregory is no longer just a “one trick pony” on the offensive end of the court. As seen in previous open gym, Gregory has worked hard on his perimeter shooting and it showed Friday night. He finished with a team high 30 points and knocked down perimeter shots including 3-pointers. His performance earned him the Award of Excellence Game MVP


To follow up and read Coach Rick’s Fab 5 (Day 2) please click the below link.