By: Cooper Hart
6’2” ’24 Will Otto (Greensboro Day)
Otto shined as a clear leader for the Bengals, carrying the scoring load without forcing the action or playing outside the offense. He was consistent as a finisher, able to absorb contact and make contested layups with efficiency. He lived at the free throw line, drawing a foul seemingly every time he got downhill. His footwork and change of pace on drives is what allowed him to create for himself so easily, never rushing and always going up under control (usually off two feet). Known as a high-level shooter, his ability to score at multiple levels efficiently will prove important to both GDS this season and Emory over the next four years.
6’6” ’27 Jagger Emerson (Greensboro Day)
Emerson has a very clear appeal as a long-term prospect. He was impressive throughout the night thanks to his versatility and impact on the defensive end. He guarded seemingly every position for at least a possession, competed on the glass, and protected the rim well in weakside rotations. He showed some nice flashes on the offensive end as well, knocking down a three and converting multiple tough finishes. As the season goes on and he gets more comfortable, look for him to establish himself as one of the best two-way threats in his class.
6’1” ’24 Steven McLeod (GRACE Christian)
McLeod stepped his play up admirably in the absence of Quasim Oden, handling the ball and running the offense more than he’s used to and making a huge impact as an on-ball defender. His energy can only be described as contagious, able to ramp up his teammates on the defensive end while simultaneously settling them down on the offensive end. He consistently found a way to get to the rim against a stellar GDS defense and did a solid job keeping them in it down the stretch.
6’5” ’26 Aidan Rousseau (Cary Academy)
There’s just so much to like about Rousseau’s season-opening performance given that he impacts the game in so many different ways. His footwork, touch, and craftiness were on full display as he dominated out of the high post area, able to get whatever shot he wanted without wasted movement. He stepped out for a three, rebounded well on both ends, and outworked his opponents on seemingly every possession. It’s rare to find players his age who play with high physicality and motor, especially one who’s so technically gifted. Look for him to consistently produce this season for a Cary Academy team with high expectations.
6’3” ’24 Alex Rechetnikov (Southern Wake Academy)
Rechetnikov proved himself as a sharpshooter against the bigger and more athletic Cary Academy, knocking down five threes (one being an and-1) and finishing with 16 points. He displayed great footwork when running off actions and was comfortable shooting out of a variety of looks. His high release point and clean footwork made it difficult to truly contest his shot. Look for him to continue to expand his game as he gets more and more comfortable within this offense.
6’2” ’25 PJ Jeffries (Durham Academy)
Jeffries was consistently reliable as a slasher in their dominant win over St. David’s on Friday night. He finished with 20 points, all of which coming from contested finishes or free throws. His first step was virtually unguardable, able to get into the paint with relative ease. Once he was there, the body control and touch he displayed to finish around the bigger St. David’s defenders was truly impressive. He was able to convert his attempts effectively without slowing down and without being affected by contact. He was, and will continue to be, the x-factor for this balanced Cavalier roster.