6’7 ’21 Jamylan Blakeney (Combine Academy)
There are a ton of high-level defenders in North Carolina and it’s time that we start mentioning Blakeney among the best. He’s as versatile as anyone on that end of the floor due to his phenomenal blend of length, athleticism, and recovery speed. Blakeney can protect the rim and legitimately defend all five positions at the high school level. He plays within himself on offense, never forcing the action and typically only looking to score on alley-oops or dump-off passes.
6’6 ’22 Jalen Hood-Schifino (Combine Academy)
There’s been a ton of excitement surrounding the new-look Combine Academy, which starts and ends with Hood-Schifino. He’s the clear leader of this group on both ends of the floor, setting the tone with poise, polish, and intensity. Hood-Schifino utilizes his IQ, size, and craftiness to touch the paint and setup others at will. He should continue tracking as a high-major prospect and taking steps within his development over the next few years.
6’5 ’20 Andy Barba (ISA Academy)
Every team needs a lethal spot-up threat, and Barba certainly fills that role for this squad. He possesses size, scrappiness, and the ability to rebound the ball while forcing the opposition to guard him from anywhere inside twenty-eight feet. Barba is capable of handling the ball as needed and knows how to make quality decisions as a playmaker.
6’3 ’21 Darrius Davis (Moravian Prep)
No team in the state can match the amount of pure talent that Moravian possesses, and Davis is arguably the unsung hero of this group. It feels like teams don’t game plan around him, maybe because his game is so straightforward, which allows him to naturally place his imprints on both ends of the floor. Davis is an excellent defender with strength and sharp anticipation instincts, but also makes consistently intelligent decisions on offense—both with and without the ball in his hands. More Division I programs will get involved as the year carries onward.
6’2 ’22 Amare Haynie (Moravian Prep)
Basically everyone who logs significant minutes for this team is a junior or senior, except Haynie. He’s already proven himself as a reliable two-way asset with IQ, toughness, and a phenomenal balance between playmaking and three-level scoring. Haynie is a terrific defender that knows how to eliminate space and force turnovers with his quickness/anticipation. His current ability with an additional three years of growth should make him a priority for a variety of Division I programs.
6’1 ’21 Jamarii Thomas (Piedmont Classical)
Despite some struggles throughout this contest, Thomas was still an obvious leader for Piedmont Classical. He sets up the offense, gets others involved, and knows how to apply scoring pressure in a variety of different ways. Thomas digs very deep on defense and knows how to absolutely harass opposing ball-handlers. He’s also a terrific athlete that rebounds the ball extremely well for his size/position. Thomas has all the ability for his recruitment to take off in the next few months.
6’9 ’21 Keeyan Itejere (GRACE Christian)
The main weapons on this team are somewhat obvious, but that didn’t stop both Gibson and Itejere from putting their imprints all over this contest. Itejere continues to get better with each viewing and highlighted a ton of useful attributes tonight. He’s extremely long and athletic with nice vision and ball-handling skills, which makes him a matchup problem for all types of opponents. Itejere can work inside or out and is an absolute menace defensively.
6’3 ’20 Cam Thomas (Oak Hill Academy)
The way Thomas scores the ball is simply impossible to ignore. For starters, he’s one of the most efficient and consistent players in the country. Add that to his incredible polish and ability to completely disregard any degree of difficulty from any area on the floor. Thomas is able to work off the catch, dribble, high post, low post, and seems to find success through every avenue. In terms of guys who are wired to score, no one in the country can match his mentality or ability.
6’1 ’20 KK Robinson (Oak Hill Academy)
There are plenty of physically impressive prospects on this Oak Hill squad, but Robinson knows how to standout with a pretty normal-looking stature. He’s an exceptional on-ball defender with great quickness and first-step anticipation, which allows him to force turnovers and mirror his assignment quite well. Robinson possesses a tight handle, knows how to get downhill, and finishes very effectively around the basket.
6’6 ’22 DJ Nix (Cannon)
It’s easy to see what makes the strong, versatile two-way forward so difficult for opponents to contain. Nix can operate and thrive in a variety of different roles, given his ability to rebound, switch across multiple positions, and apply scoring pressure from inside or outside the arc. He plays physical and finishes well through contact. Nix should be a priority for plenty of programs at the next level.
5’11 ’20 Jayden Dibble (Cannon)
There are a lot of players that stand out with their scoring or flashy handle, but Dibble makes a lasting impression with his motor, defense, passing ability and overall unselfishness. He really doesn’t look to score unless necessary or wide open and has quality passing vision. Dibble plays bigger than his size would imply on both ends of the floor and makes consistently smart decisions with the ball in his hands.
6’9 ’20 Myles Evans (Ravenscroft)
Few players on this squad have a better crossroads between productivity and long-term upside than Evans, who continues to look better each time we see him perform. Evans is a quality low-post option with nice touch, but has gradually shifted his way out towards the perimeter. He has a smooth-looking jumper with a nice release point, both from midrange and beyond the arc. The lefty knows how to cause mismatches and shows flashes of offensive versatility from time to time.