By; DeAjai Dawkins
2024 Austin Swartz (Team Charlotte)
It’s amazing to think that Swartz has two remaining years of high school basketball. I don’t think I’ve seen a sophomore scorer with Swartz’s 6’4 frame that can put the ball in the basket like he can. Swartz embodies the impact that a true dynamic shooter brings to a team. His shot-making capabilities have reached a level where defenders sometimes overcommit trying to defend him, and leave a man wide open. I believe that his junior season could potentially be electric.
2023 Titus Ivy (Team Push 17u)
Cox Mill High School’s Titus Ivy is a prime example of a competent talent with size and upside, that has found themselves battling injury during vital parts of their high school career. I first watched Ivy a year and a half ago, intrigued by a 6’5/6’6 wing bringing the ball up the floor and facilitating much of the offense for his travel ball team at the time. He shoots catch and shoot three confidently, and has dangerous length.
2025 Nick Hailey (Team Curry)
Hailey initially caught my attention about 2 years ago as a sharpshooting wing with impressive length. Over time, the additions to his offensive game as well as his overall physique has him entering his sophomore year with the presence of some seniors. Hailey’s strength has improved over time, especially in his lower body. I’ve loved seeing how his athleticism has expanded as well over the course of his development.
2026 Tyzhir Dyer (Team Charlotte)
Tyzhir Dyer is a player I’ve watched once before, and it’s heartwarming to see how he’s progressed ever since. Dyer is following up an impressive list of guards that have attended Hickory Ridge High School, and hopes to help the program succeed over the years. Dyer is a decisive lead guard that impresses me with his ability to get to the rim and make winning plays. He embraces tough defensive matchups and can be trusted to cover opposing guards of varying skill levels.
2024 Draven Pilson (Team Curry)
Pilson is a gifted wing that could very realistically carve an argument for himself amongst the best 2024 wings in NC. I love the engagement Draven shows on the defensive end, making it devotional use of his length and overall motor. At the moment, I’m not sure if Pilson truthfully understands the level of dominance he could play at if he continues developing his confidence. His length and presence on both ends is almost impossible to ignore. I believe his niche will be on the defensive end.
2023 Dallas Gardner (Team Charlotte 17u)
At this point in time, I believe that college coaches must be waiting on someone else to offer before pulling the trigger themselves. It does not make sense to me how a rugged, strong, intelligent scoring guard has not become a priority of recruit for at least a few scholarship level schools. The 6’3 guard is a hard nosed attacked that does not at all mind throwing his body around to draw fouls through contact. Gardner scores the ball impressively, and makes great use of his vertical athleticism.
2025 Amore Connelly (Team United 15U)
Few freshman impacted their varsity programs in the state this year like Amore Connelly, and it’s no surprise. Connelly carries himself with a rare, unspoken nature that immediately welcomes you to his hard-nosed style of play. I love aggressive players that don’t back down; add skill into the mixture and you’re looking at Amore. I love his perimeter defensive capabilities and how he’s able to lock in and stay in front of taller/longer ball handlers. He’s a gifted athlete with a rugged, focused approach.
2024 Mike Andino (Team MOAM 2024)
The score-first guard has had an impressive & consistent weekend playing alongside a group of talented guys. I notice that Andino doesn’t rush into his shot attempts, rather toying with the defense until he finds an angle/shot that makes the most sense for him. Some would classify Andino as a three level scorer, given the fact that he showed the capability to score from all 3 areas at one point or another. He makes scoring his #1 priority on this roster, and does so at a solid rate.
2025 Areal Jones (Team United 15u)
Steal is a very clear talent that has flown under many radars for too long now. This is no fault of his own, considering he’s played a national schedule for the large bulk of his playing career so far, therefore many NC basketball fans have simply have not seen him. The downhill guard is increasing his overall scoring capabilities from all 3 levels, but remains the drive and kick threat that I remember him as. His ability to stay locked in and maintain composure consistently impresses me.