Each year, North Carolina reminds everyone just how much talent resides within the Hoopstate. New faces emerge, prospects transfer in to prove themselves, and dozens upon dozens of players earn opportunities to further their career at the next level. That being said, the consistent amount of young, upcoming talent is what continues to stand out across the entire state. Now, North Carolina’s Class of 2024 have turned into freshmen–with many of them expected to lead or contribute immediately. Although there are countless names worth noting, this first article will take a closer look at five prospects…
5’10 Jordan Vick (Greenfield)
Splitting up the two Greenfield products was out of variety as opposed to ability, seeing as how Vick is as impressive as anyone in this class. While height shouldn’t be the basis for anything, it should be noted that he’s the smallest player of any high-level freshman to attract college coaches. In terms of IQ, skill, and polish, Vick is miles ahead of most players within the freshman class. He’s already more than capable of seamlessly running a team on both ends of the floor, highlighting poise and unselfishness as a primary creator while consistently disrupting his assignment defensively. Vick showcases a fairly complete game and should only continue to turn heads over the foreseeable future.
6’3 Zion Collins (Hillside)
Upon looking at Collins, it’s easy to see the long-term appeal. Add in his flashes of dominance, and folks should be monitoring his development very closely. He’s already blessed with amazing size, fluidity, and understands the game pretty well on both ends of the floor. Collins played without the ball in his hands a lot throughout the summer, but really turned a corner after moving into a role as a primary creator. He’s more than capable of asserting himself as a scorer from all levels. However, Collins is truly at his best when running the team, setting up others, and seizing scoring opportunities within the flow of the action. He’s a dynamic creator with craftiness, vision, and obvious upside remaining.
6’6 Draven Pilson (Forsyth Country Day)
Although probably the least known of any player from either list, Pilson has all the makings of a prospect with the tools to explode onto the scene sooner than later. He’s already an impressive defender with toughness, versatility, and phenomenal instincts. Pilson rebounds well on both ends of the floor and simply highlights a nose for the ball. He’s always been a defensive menace and quality transition player, but his skill development should put folks on notice. Over the last few months, Pilson looked far more comfortable and fluid at shooting perimeter jumpers, creating his own shot, and making decisive decisions off the bounce. He’s trended upward for most of the last few years, but Pilson looks destined to only get better and better.
6’3 Zion Walker (The Burlington School)
After establishing himself as a notable middle-school prospect, Walker has made a seamless transition into his freshman season. He’s possessed advanced qualities for quite a while, but somehow took another step forward over the recent summer season. Walker is smart, strong, and understands how to reliably run a team on both ends of the floor. He offers an incredible blend of playmaking and three-level scoring with the necessary toughness and leadership to set the tone in various different ways. Walker is a strong rebounder for his position, actively pushes the break in transition, and makes consistently intelligent decisions with the ball in his hands. Though he already displays a pretty complete skillset, expect to see Walker as the focal point for The Burlington School in the near future.
6’5 Bryson Cokley (United Faith)
United Faith is certainly one of the most talented programs across the state, which speaks to Cokley’s abilities–seeing as how he’s already a major contributor within their scheme. There are a lot of appealing qualities about him, but Cokley’s legitimacy as a perimeter player might be as strong of a selling point as any single attribute. At 6-foot-5 with skill, athleticism, and a fairly versatile two-way presence, he’s only going to continue to trend upward. Cokley is equally as effective in transition as the half-court setting and understands how to make an impact with or without the ball in his hands. Talented would be an understatement, but Cokley is truly just beginning to harness his long-term upside.